Rowan Williams says some sharia in Britain unavoidable
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans, has said the introduction of some aspects of sharia, Islamic law in Britain, was unavoidable. Other religions enjoyed tolerance of their laws in Britain, he told the BBC, and he called for a “constructive accommodation” with Muslim practice in areas such as marital disputes.
Williams stressed that “nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well.
“There are ways of looking at marital dispute, 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.” He also said that the argument that “there’s one law for everybody … I think that’s a bit of a danger“.
Talk about opening a can of worms … Who would decide which sharia laws would apply and which would not? Would Muslims be able to choose between the civil and the sharia courts? Could defendants appeal to civil courts if they thought a sharia court decision violated their basic rights? And is Williams right to say there is a danger in having one law for everybody?
What do you think about this?
P.S. — By coincidence, Williams spoke up for sharia on the same day as Britain denied a visa to Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, one of Islam’s leading preachers known for his sermons on the Arabic-language satellite television channel Al Jazeera.