Friday, February 08, 2008

The Archbishop and the Sharia

Everyone is talking about it so I might as well create a post, even though I have nothing in particular to add to Mick's post Or Bob's

which more or less sum it all up.

But this little ditty from George Szirtes is the cutest of them all:

Archbishop and Mullah agreed
to go halves on the gown and the creed,
remixing the Ave Maria
with I've just met a Girl called Sharia.



Rowan William’s friends have argued that he didn’t mean to suggest that Sharia law should have equal status, or be an alternative to, British law, or be in any way legally enforceable in Britain: simply that it be recognised as a form of “dispute resolution”, in the way that ACAS and other bodies settle disputes without recourse to the courts. And that Sharia would be limited to financial and marital matters: the favourite comparitor now being used by Dr Willians’ friends, is the ‘Beth Din’ courts used by some orthodox Jews to settle disputes.

This is a false comparison: The Beth Din courts operate within the framework of existing British law; they do not exercise any form of alternative jurisdiction; participation is entirely voluntary and participants retain the right to revert to ‘normal’ British law at any time. it is the distinction between allowing for cultural differentiation within civil society, and allowing different state legal systems to co-exist and be applied to different members of the population. These are quite distinct matters, as Rowan Williams (who, everyone seems to agree, is highly intelligent) surely ought to realise.

The blogger illustrates his point:

.... then recieved a phone call: it was from a local Muslim activist, who is also a relative of this woman. He said -very friendly- “I’m sure we can sort this matter out: just tell us where she is, and we’ll deal with her; the charges will be dropped, and you lot will have no more trouble.”

(From: Shiraz Socialist)

And from the other side of the divide, The Iconoclast:

I have mentioned before my Father-in-law's comment some years ago on naïve (usually but not exclusively Anglican) clergy entering into well meant inter faith dialogue with their town’s Muslims

They think they are dealing with other Anglicans, just without Hymns Ancient and Modern. They are not.

Father-in-Law’s view being formed by experiences in Egypt and Sudan during the war and in Dewsbury in the early 70s.

To paraphrase I fear the Archbishop believes that he is dealing with the Beth Din but without the salt beef sandwiches.

In which he is very wrong, the workings of the Beth Din being based on our shared Old Testament heritage and other common values.

One interesting side issue is that for once I find myself in agreement with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Independent. Not however complete agreement as she insists that sharia as practised is not sanctioned by a correct interpretation of the Koran.

What Rowan Williams wishes upon us is an abomination . . . Dr Williams says Muslims want the choice to opt for sharia. What he believes to be choice is, in truth, inner compulsion, the result of brainwashing which begins in the madrassas when girls and boys are young enough to mould.
I have often admired the Archbishop's lofty thoughts, his intellectualism, the passion for human rights, his guts when the Government needs to be chastised. But this time his kind indulgences betray his own invaluable principles and deliver Muslim women, girls and dissidents into the hands of religious persecutors – an unforgivable intervention, which I hope he now sincerely regrets.


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