Thursday, February 07, 2008
The United Kingdom and Sharia Law
Excerpts from BBC
Dr Williams says Muslims should have a choice in legal disputes
Dr Williams interview
The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable".
Dr Rowan Williams told 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.
Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.
For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.
He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".
An approach to law which simply said - there's one law for everybody - I think that's a bit of a danger Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says "sensational reporting of opinion polls" clouds the issue.
He stresses 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".
But Dr Williams said an approach to law which simply said "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts - I think that's a bit of a danger".
"There's a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law."
Dr Williams adds: "What we don't want either, is I think, a stand-off, where the law squares up to people's religious consciences."
"We don't either want a situation where, because there's no way of legally monitoring what communities do... people do what they like in private in such a way that that becomes another way of intensifying oppression inside a community."