Thursday, 7 February 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury advocates Sharia law for UK

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For reasons known only unto himself, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, today decided to state live on Radio 4 that he would support the introduction of Sharia law into the UK for issues such as divorce and financial affairs.

He believes that giving British Muslims the option to use Sharia law to settle such matters is "unavoidable" and would help social cohesion, meaning Muslims no longer have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

Williams wasn't advocating the wholesale introduction of Sharia into Britain, but rather expressing his view that it could prove beneficial to Muslims in certain legal areas: "It would be quite wrong to say that we could ever license a system of law for some community which gave people no right of appeal, no way of exercising the rights that are guaranteed to them as citizens in general. But there are ways of looking at marital disputes, for example, which provide an alternative to the divorce courts as we understand them. In some cultural and religious settings they would seem more appropriate."

The government and other political parties moved quickly to distance themselves from Williams' comments, with Gordon Brown's spokesman saying the prime minister "believes that British laws should be based on British values".

Humanists and secularists have also responded critically to the comments. Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: "Fundamental to the principle of equality before the law that the same rights and processes of law be available to all and this automatically rules out any possibility of delegating the rights of some citizens to unaccountable religious authorities. Singling out certain groups for separate treatment will also surely undermine work towards good relations and social cohesion rather than assist it."

While it's obvious Williams isn't suggesting that Britain suddenly drops its centuries-old legal tradition in favour of Sharia, it seems he really should have thought twice before coming out with this live on national radio. Quite why he decided to make these comments, with all the backlash and far-right cries "told you so" he must have known they would provoke is anybody's guess. Just another example of why bishops should stay out of politics really...

Thoughts people?

21 comments:

Skeptic_Al said...

This is the thin end of a very stinky wedge. The man's a buffon, pure and simple.

Skeptic_Al said...

and also a buffoon :D

Anonymous said...

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 Jewish people have a separate court system?! 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?!?

Cruzado said...

What nonsense. Those who advocate this insidious incrementalism of islamofacism need to tour middle eastern countries where sharia law exists and see what a hellhole they are.

The Hogfather said...

The only kind thing I can bring myself to say about Rowan Williams is at least he's not quite as daft as the Pope!

Skeptic_Al said...

If you read the comments page on the BBC pertaining to the original article, you can see that pretty much all the Muslims writing there are opposed to this.

To continue my earlier metaphor, this positively reeks of hidden agenda on the part of the Archbuffoon of Canterbury. Trying to deliberately cause outcry to rally the faithful, maybe?

Anonymous said...

what a ridiculous comment, "at least he's not as daft as the pope". The archbishop is simply an imbecile. He apparently is utterly oblivious to the growing number of "honor killings", female-genitalia mutilations, stoning to death of women, barring of girls from school, and other assorted barbaric treatments afforded to the hapless women of fudamentalist Islam.
The archbishop needs to get out more, into the real world. Or is it, the church needs to get a new archbishop?

George said...

Whilst it is easy to react to this by calling Williams an idiot, to do so is to forget that a) despite his beliefs, he isn't, and b) more importantly, his position is more political than pastoral. Part of his job description is to win public support for the Christian church and increase its influence in public life.

What I see here is a very clever ploy to do just that whilst strutting his "interfaith dialogue" stuff! You need only look at all the comments insisting that, "this is a Christian country built on Christian values!" (how many column inches would he get saying that himself?) not to mention the "welcoming" comments from the MCB.

He knows that Muslims are not going to go away any time soon and that there is gathering anxiety over their influence in society - nowhere is there more anxiety than in the Anglican church. By adopting this conciliatory stance he succedes in generating widespread antagonism towards muslims without being antagonistic himself whilst getting a variety of important people and institutions to publicly reafirm and support Christian influence in public life.

Sneaky bastard!

The Hogfather said...

Wow hang on a second!

My comment was only meant as a joke! I was trying to lighten the tone.

I did say "the only kind thing I can say about..." him so it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the Archbishops comments!!!!!

I was merely pointing out that the Pope's recent antics are pretty daft as well (to put it mildly).

Anyway, I agree with pretty much everything "Anonymous" says after that criticism of my post.

DirkGently said...

He only highlights just how irrelevant the church is if he is so insecure that he has to pander to other religions.

aaron said...

I think the Jewish thing is that under contract law you can stipulate what law will govern said contract and the result will generally be upheld if decided in private arbitration. This is available to everyone and supported by a body of common law principles.
Certain things aren't allowed regardless as a matter of public policy in respect to worries about fairness e.g. no prenups in the UK.
Currently financial issues can be decided in a Sharia compliant manner. Though I'd imagine if they breached regulator's codes of practice the courts would not uphold them.

My bare understanding from talking to a barrister friend earlier today about this.

No Sharia in the UK said...

This man is a lunatic if he thinks people in the UK would stand back and let this happen.

If there are Jewish courts they should go as well. We should have the same legal system and rules for everyone and it should be secular.

Tom Rees said...

Key thing here is that people can, by consent, agree to be bound by whatever rules they like so long as they don't contravene state/local laws. So Jewish law, Shariah law - it's all 'legal' already (except fir the bits about killing apostates etc).

So why is the Archbish so enthusiastic? I would imagine it's about jurisdication, demarcation, and power.

Putting barriers between people according to their religious beliefs is generally greeted enthusiastically by all religious people. It's a good thing, from his perspective, if the muslim clergy have more power since, by analogy, the christian clergy can then seek more power.

Pratik said...

Consider this. A muslim man and his wife are going to get divorced. The muslim man decides that he wants the proceedings to take place under Sharia law. The woman does not. What happens in this case? Does British law supercede the sharia court?

spatha said...

An absolute disgrace. Next thing will be mullahs preacing to us from the pulpit.

MILLI said...

`ALL RELIGION IS FICTION AT ITS CORE, A MEANS TO HERD PEOPLE TOGETHER TO ORGANISE THEM BY SUBMISSION TO A SUPPOSEDLY ALL-POWERFUL ENTITY. OVER THE CENTURIES ONE HAS EVIDENCE OF HOW THOSE INVOLVED IN RELIGIONS AT THEIR VERY CENTRES HAVE BEEN CHARLATONS, LIARS, TERRORISTS AND PERVERTS. ALL HAVE BEEN CRUEL AND DECEITFUL AND LET US NOT FORGET THIS IS NOT JUST HISTORICAL IT IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW AND IN OUR OWN COUNTRY. CATHOLIC PRIESTS PREYING ON YOUNG CHILDREN IN THEIR CARE, MUSLIMS INCITING INSURRECTION AND MURDER AND SO ON, OTHER RELIGIOUS CULTS WINKLING MONEY OUT OF GULLIBLE CONVERTS ETC.ETC.ETC.

WHAT PLACE HAS ANY RELIGION IN ANY MODERN SOCIETY? NONE IN MY OPINION. IF YOU WANT TO BELIEVE I CANNOT STOP YOU AND I DON'T WISH TO BUT YOU SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO INFILTRATE YOUR IDEAS INTO THE VERY GOVERNMENT OF THIS COUNTRY AND IT SHOULD NOT BE AN ARGUMENT FOR OR AGAINST THE FORMATION OF ANY LAWS. WE DO NOT WANT TO END UP IN THE SITUATION WHERE THE UNITED STATES FINDS ITSELF, WHERE THE WHOLE POPULATION IS IN FEAR OF THE RELIGIOUS ZEALOTS AND SENATOR JOHN McCAIN IS ADVERSELY COMMENTED UPON FOR NOT HAVING BROUGHT RELIGION INTO HIS BID FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. HOW WARPED IS THAT?

THERE SHOULD BE NO BISHOPS IN THE SECOND HOUSE AS OF RIGHT, THE SOVEREIGN SHOULD NOT BE THE DEFENDER OF ANY FAITH AND THE RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS SHOULD BE OF NON CHARITABLE STATUS IN RESPECT OF TAX LIABILITY. THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IS STILL, I BELIEVE, ONE OF THE RICHEST LANDOWNERS IN THESE ISLANDS AND YET ARE CONTINUALLY BEGGING FOR MONEY. THEY AND ANY OTHERS WITH ASSETS SHOULD BE ASSESSED AND MADE TO LIQUIDISE THEIR ASSETS BEFORE BEING ALLOWED TO BEG.

IN SUMMARY, WE SHOULD NOT BE LISTENING TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY ANY MORE THAN WE SHOULD ALLOW THE LIKES OF JADE GOODY HOURS OF PRIME TV TIME THEY ARE BOTH UNIMPORTANT FREAKS OF SOCIETY WHOSE OPINIONS WE CAN WELL DO WITHOUT IN ORDER TO GET THROUGH OUR DAYS ON THIS PLANET.

WE MAKE THE LAW IN THIS LAND THROUGH THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. IF MUSLIMS WANT IT ALTERED THEN THEY HAVE THAT AVENUE THROUGH WHICH TO DO IT. IF THEY DON'T LIKE IT THEN GO AND LIVE IN A COUNTRY WHICH SUPPORTS THEIR IDEALS. I SUSPECT MOST OF THEM CAME FROM SUCH A PLACE ANYWAY. I BET THEIR COUNTRIES WOULD GIVE LITTLE TIME TO THIS SORT OF DISCUSSION. REMEMBER THE TEACHER AND THE TEDDY BEAR? IF YOU LIVE IN GREAT BRITAIN THEN WHOEVER YOU ARE AND WHATEVER BELIEFS YOU MAY HOLD YOU ARE ALL EQUAL UNDER THE LAW AND YOU ARE ALL EXPECTED TO BEHAVE IN A WAY THAT THE BRITISH PEOPLE WILL TOLERATE. I THINK THAT COVERS IT!

Hugh Caldwell said...

The Archbishop could do with a haircut and a spin doctor. He has not understood what the Daily Mail expects of him. Almost endearing.

Prof Scrub said...

Dear readers,

I agree the Archbishop needs a complete makeover. Currently I compare his looks to that of Rasputin, but with the correct hairstyle and sunglasses, I believe he could transform himself into a pop idol.

Allow me to demonstrate:

http://www.profscrub.com/2008/02/archbishop-rasputin.html

Prof Scrub
http://www.profscrub.com

D21 said...

The Archbishop of Canterbury has no right to poke his nose into other religions. All he has done is stirred up more racial hatred and caused worldwide backlash.

Sharia Law was introduced to Canada and was immediately withdrawn after complaints by canadians and even muslims and caused worldwide backlash.

He should resign

The Hogfather said...

Here, Here D21!!!

That is also interesting info about Canada.

The Archbishop should just resign now, before he makes an even bigger fool of himself than he already has.

Anonymous said...

If anyone cares to read what the Archbishop actually said, as opposed to the usual media nonsense you can access a good article with a link to the full text of his remarks at http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1581. They were in fact part of an academic lecture to British lawyers on the interaction of Muslim beliefs with the application of British law in certain limited and fairly narrow circumstances.