Religion and Spirituality

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Anglican Head in Trouble over Sharia Comments

February 12, 2008 12:05 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ call to recognize aspects of Islamic law in Britain’s legal system has met a hail of criticism.

30-Second Summary

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Muddled” and “misguided” are how the Financial Times and Investor’s Business Daily respectively characterized Archbishop Rowan Williams’ suggestion that Britain adopt aspects of Sharia law, the traditional law of Islamic teaching based on the Koran.

The British tabloids were less temperate. The Sun, Britain’s most popular daily, ran with the headline “A Victory for Terrorism.”

Williams sparked the controversy in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s World at One last week. He said that the “constructive accommodation” of aspects of Islamic law would be an acknowledgment of Britain’s multicultural reality, not a legal exemption for the Muslim community.

British Muslims should not be split between their loyalty to the state and their cultural affiliations, he argued.

He said Sharia courts could help adjudicate in matters of family law. He noted that Orthodox Jewish courts serve as a precedent, and that British common law reflects Christianity’s anti-abortion views.

Williams’ predecessor as church leader, Lord Carey, said accepting Islamic laws would be “disastrous” for the country.

The Financial Times’ editorial board wrote that Islamic law is not equipped to deal with many modern issues, nor does it guarantee equal rights for everyone.

Investor’s Business Daily said that recognizing Sharia jurisdiction “under cover of tolerance” would strip Britain’s sizable Muslim minority of legal rights.

In 2004, similar arguments arose in Ontario, Canada, when a report came out recommending the recognition of Sharia law in order to help with a backlog of court cases.

Headline Links: Archbishop’s Sharia comments stir anger

Opinion & Analysis: ‘Muddled’ or multicultural?

The Radio 4 interview
The case against Sharia

Reference: Sharia law

Related Links: ‘Sharia law in Canada, almost’

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