Thursday, February 07, 2008

UK to accept Sharia law?

The BBC is reporting today on an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.

For those of you who don't know, Her Majesty the Queen is the head of the Anglican Church (Church of England) but the Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the church. (I suppose equivalent to the position of Chief Rabbi, only with a bigger flock).

Although he has no legal authority or power, his views certainly reflect the values of the church and may influence governmental policy.

Dr Williams thinks that the only way to accomodate the large Muslim population in Britian is to give them legal independence and the option of going to a Sharia court instead of a British court.

I suppose in theory this is similar to having a Beis Din, and perhaps the Muslims also have a prohibition in using secular courts. At present in Britian a Beis Din can act as an arbitrator in a civil dispute (as can anyone accepted by the two parties) although they don't have any judicial power. They oversee Gittin, but any divorce has to also be done through the civil courts.

I think that Dr Williams is now advocating giving a much more powerful authority to the Muslim courts. He wants to give them authority to deal with not only financial matters but also marital disputes.

I'll leave aside the question of whether the rulings of such a court would be acceptable to the average Briton (would they be allowed to administer lashes or to cut of limbs as they can in some countries under Muslim rule?). The more important question is why Britain should be trying to bend over backwards to accomodate Muslims? For hundreds of years Jews have lived in foreign countries, and have managed to make an acceptable compromise between using Jewish law and following the laws of the land they are in. The Chief Rabbi has never advocated transferring legal authority to the Jewish courts. Yet Muslims, in Britain as in many countries, don't feel as though they are in exile. Their goal is to make the whole world Muslim. Therefore anything less than complete submission to their values is, in their minds, racism, and undermines Western multiculturalism.

I am only slightly shocked that the head of the Anglican church can make statements like this. The reality is that Britain is fast becoming a Muslim country (some parts of the country already are), and eventually British 'tolerance' (or laziness) will allow them to take over completely.

I am very glad that my family made the decision to come back to Israel. Hopefully news items like this will encourage more Brits to leave Blighty and come home to Israel.

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".

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 says the argument that "there's one law for everybody... 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."

His comments are likely to fuel the debate over multiculturalism in the UK.

Last month, one of Dr William's colleagues, the Bishop of Rochester, said that non-Muslims may find it hard to live or work in some areas of the UK.

The Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali said there was "hostility" in some areas and described the government's multicultural policies as divisive.

He said there had been a worldwide resurgence of Islamic extremism, leading to young people growing up alienated from the country they lived in.

He has since received death threats and has been placed under police protection.

No comments:

Post a comment