Saturday, 9 February 2008

Out of the Mouths of Archbishops

I wonder if the Archbishop of Canterbury would have minded more what he was about if he'd read this* before his recent speech advocating the acceptance of some aspects of Muslim Sharia law in the United Kingdom. Obviously, he doesn't mean the kind of laws that condone the vile practices described in this Civitas report. Nor does he advocate the Sharia's infamous legal punishments that we've become all too familiar with of late. As I understand it, the Archbishop is referring to Sharia laws relating to civil matters such as marriage, divorce, custody of children and inheritance and that such recognition would be an alternative to, not a replacement for, UK laws.

Nevertheless, I should like clarification on the following (but am unlikely to get it from the Archbishop, to whom clarity appears to be anathema):
  • Is there a uniform codified version of Sharia law?
  • How can we square the unequal treatment of women under Sharia law with the principle of equality before the law that is enshrined in our own legal system?
  • Is it possible to adopt some aspects of Sharia law without encouraging demands (by the usual suspects) for the whole law to be adopted?
  • What would happen in the event that a judgment from a Sharia court contravened UK laws?
*(Crimes of the Community: Honour-Based Violence in the UK by James Brandon and Salam Hafez, Centre for Social Cohesion, 2008. Thanks to Butterflies and Wheels for the link). Amongst other things, this careful piece of research demolishes, effectively in my opinion, the Archbishop's glib assertion that adopting some parts of Sharia law would improve the social cohesion of Muslims into British society. Some of it will probably make your hair stand on end, especially if you're a woman.

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