Best of the blizzard over Rowan’s sharia brainstorm

February 10, 2008

The Sun, 10 Feb. 2008There’s been a blizzard of commentary about Rowan Williams saying that adopting some aspects of sharia into British law was unavoidable. A lot of it was predictable, like The Sun‘s “Bash the Bishop” headline. But there are several thoughtful pieces out there that ask important questions about religion and the law. Below are links to some of the best I found surfing around today.

Our contribution is “Devil in details” in archbishop’s sharia plan.”

What lies beyond Lambeth’s Sharia humiliation? and A multi-faith muddle — two pieces by Simon Barrow, director of the Ekklesia religious think tank, who sees Williams trying to link a declining Church of England with growing minority groups to press for opt-outs for religious groups from laws they find aggressively secular.

Opposing Sharia Arbitration Courts in UK — U.S.-based blogger Ali Eteraz lists the problems he sees with incorporating sharia concepts into British law: “Conclusion — There is absolutely no reason for a Muslim to support Sharia arbitration.”

Reinventing sharia — Asim Siddiqui, chairman of the City Circle network of young British Muslim professionals, says Muslim scholars have to reinterpret sharia laws in a liberal way to ensure these “become dominant over time.”

The Trouble with Shariah — Yahya Birt, the former City Circle chairman, seems sympathetic to the idea but notes problems squaring sharia with civil law. “More clarity about what Shariah actually means is essential to moving this debate forward constructively.”

Islam Channel — This is a London-based satellite broadcaster by and for Muslims. Islam Channel logoClick on News-08-02-08 to get Friday’s newscast, with a long interview with Lord Nazir Ahmed. Note he says Muslims in Britain who want sharia law to encompass all aspects of life should move to a Muslim country that tries to do that.

BBC Reporting Religion — An interview with Baroness Haleh Afshar, a law professor who opposes introducing any aspects of sharia in British law.

A noble, reckless rebellionGuardian columnist Madeleine Bunting says “there is something mad and admirable” in the archbishop’s refusal to turn complex ideas into soundbites.

Misjudgment that made martyrs of others — Another Guardian columnist, Andrew Brown, says “there are certain things which may very well be true, and urgent and important, but which no archbishop can possibly say.”

Catholics say their tribunals do not seek civil law enforcement — It’s easy to forget that the Roman Catholic Church also has its own tribunals for personal law issues such as divorce and remarriage, but does not seek any legal recognition for this process.

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I also liked the Financial Times op-ed.

Posted by saint | Report as abusive