Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury Says Sharia Law Not So Bad

Yeah, it seems he's gone insane. Read on:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has today said that the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK is "unavoidable" and that it would help maintain social cohesion.

Rowan Williams told BBC Radio 4's World At One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

He says that Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court. He added Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty"
Dr Williams said there was a place for finding a "constructive accommodation" in areas such as marriage - allowing Muslim women to avoid Western divorce proceedings.

Other religions enjoyed such tolerance of their own laws, he pointed out, but stressed that it could never be allowed to take precedence over an individual's rights as a citizen.

This is pure insanity. Sharia law is openly hostile to democratic society, so I fail to see how sharia can be made to fit in, and maintain social cohesion. This is a move that leads straightway to madness, and the legitimization of extremism. This is an outrage.

Fortunately, there are others who agree that this is bad:

But his views were condemned today by senior Tory MP Peter Luff, who said: "This is a very dangerous route which we should not go down. You can't be a little bit pregnant. You can't have a little bit of sharia law.

"We should not start introducing new different legal systems alongside ours."

True dat.

Read the rest.

HT: Simon

UPDATE: Christopher Hitchens goes even deeper in explaining why this is bad:

Picture the life of a young Urdu-speaking woman brought to Yorkshire from Pakistan to marry a man—quite possibly a close cousin—whom she has never met. He takes her dowry, beats her, and abuses the children he forces her to bear. She is not allowed to leave the house unless in the company of a male relative and unless she is submissively covered from head to toe. Suppose that she is able to contact one of the few support groups that now exist for the many women in Britain who share her plight. What she ought to be able to say is, "I need the police, and I need the law to be enforced." But what she will often be told is, "Your problem is better handled within the community." And those words, almost a death sentence, have now been endorsed and underwritten—and even advocated—by the country's official spiritual authority.

It's real bad, folks.


Victor Emmanuel III loves U said...

1. I was listening to a discussion about this issue on the BBC World Service when someone said that there were Jewish courts in the UK so why should there not be Sharia courts. I did not even know there were Jewish courts, with legal authority in Britain. Why on earth do British Jewish people have a separate court system, how did that come about?! I thought I lived in a secular country but apparently not! Just another reason, in my opinion, to abolish the House of Lords and give the British people the power! Jewish courts, what next, Mormon courts, Scientologist courts...?!?

Rafique Tucker said...

Well, equating Judaism or Christianity (or Islam for that matter) with Scientology is problematic for obvious reasons. Secondly, I'm going to take the idea of Jewish courts with a grain of salt. I suspect what's involved there is a confusion between respecting the religious rights of Jews (and all faiths), and imposing those religious views on the law. I'll have to look into that further.

The problem here is not a policy of protecting the religious rights of Muslims, rather the imposition of Sharia Islamic law.

Vol Abroad said...

There are religious courts in the UK, but as I understand it they have the same standing as arbitration (often used for dispute resolution of all kinds). There's nothing to stop such sharia courts and many Muslims in the UK conduct their affairs in accordance with sharia law without ever having recourse to the legal UK courts. Two parties can agree to act according to any set of rules they want (so long as they don't actively contravene the law of the land).

As it currently stands, Jewish and Muslim marriages are NOT recognised under UK law - so many couples have both a civil and a religious wedding if they want their union to be recognised in law and in church (as it were). If they divorce, there may be both a civil court divorce and a religious divorce which allows both parties to remarry within their religion if they so choose.

That's fine and dandy.

What's not OK having a tandem system that stands in place of civil court proceedings. So in matters of custody an Islamic court is likely to give children to the father - a family court to the mother. In civil divorce proceedings property will be divided in a much different way than it would in an Islamic court. What's not OK is having legal or social pressure on women to give up their legal rights as equal citizens.

Mars said...


This is the danger of trying to plant multiculturalism instead of pluralism.

In a multicultural society the rule of law is what a cultural group want it to be. Contrast to a plural society which there is one law that applies equally to all.

One key to having a healthy multi-ethnic society is not to hyphenate by making different privileges or punishments based on color, creed, race, or religion.

However and obviously, there must be a lot of support for Sharia Law since it made the headlines.