Sharia law in the west?

Dr Rowan WilliamsOn the front page of most UK newspapers today is what the Daily Mirror calls “a barrage of criticism” after the Archbishop of Cantebury appeared to back the adoption of some aspects of Sharia law in the UK.

Dr Rowan Williams told BBC Radio 4 he believed the adoption of some Sharia law in the UK seemed “unavoidable”. You can listen to his interview here. What do you think? And is it already happening? Downing Street insisted British laws would remain dominant but admitted that Muslim-firendly laws had been introduced to allow Sharia-compliant marriages. And Jewish courts have been operating in Britain for centuries, and there are Sharia courts in Islamic communities across the country, although they have no authority under British law.

In the US, Mitt Romney dropped out of the race to become the Republicans’ presidential candidate in November’s election, but Mike Huckabee, running third in the delegate-count behind Romney and front-runner John McCain, vowed to continue. But Senator McCain is now all but guaranteed to be the Republican nominee – what do you think of him? And should the Democrats worry if the nomination battle between Senators Clinton and Obama continues for weeks or months more?

The most-read story is British police declaring Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto was killed by a bomb blast, not gunfire.

And looking ahead to the weekend, Turkey’s parliament is on Saturday expected to lift the country’s 28-year ban on headscarves in state universities. Is this a threat to the secular state founded by Kemal Ataturk? Or is the country ready for the restriction to be eased?

17 Responses to “Sharia law in the west?”

  1. February 8, 2008 at 09:51

    I am well aware that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a primate but it seems that he is not homo SAPIENS. Discuss.

    Colin Bennett, Hove.

  2. 2 John in Germany
    February 8, 2008 at 10:46

    Hello Peter,
    A good subject. May i start with a question?.

    Would a minority in a Muslim land be allowed to imply there law in cases of relationships and money?. i think not.

    The Arch Bishop, God bless him, is going to far, not all muslin’s abide by the teaching of the Koran, and these radicals would use the Sharia law to their own benefit.

    Why cant the World come to terms with the situation as it is, we are not protected from Muslim terrorism anywhere. The moderates are not in the position to control the radicals. And no way can we allow another form of law which over-rides the law of the land in question. i even have problem with European law, we in Europe must firstly be bound by our own law, and the European if needed (over border problems, customs ect), without the additional problems with religious law.

    Every religion has its laws, the problem is scholars use their positions to pull it apart, or to bend it to suit the form required at the time. There is always somebody who would turn murder, terrorism, hate, woman bashing in to the will of some God. Our Gods must be very sad about the way we interpret the writings.
    A lighter point if we lived using the theories of Marx and Engels, the world would also be a perfect place. They all forget one thing PEOPLE.

    A point to think about: In hospital after a serious operation i met a Turkish gentleman, and we got on like a house on fire, even though he spoke no English, and little German. However we had the same problem we were sick and we wanted to get better.

    So Arch Bishop let us apply the laws we have, and make sure that everybody is dealt with the same way. The Police force can be as colourful as you will, but they must apply the same law, with the same consequences and fairness.

    John in Germany

  3. February 8, 2008 at 11:15

    People in the UK will NEVR accept Sharia law here. The Archbishop is completely out of touch with the mood in this country.

  4. 4 Alec Paterson
    February 8, 2008 at 12:16

    Sharia councils already exist in the country, for Muslims to obtain advice and religious guidance on divorce for example. The Archbishop’s proposal for Sharia courts appears as appeasement to Islamic extremism, and the fear of social unrest. One law for everyone was one the the great achievments of Judeo/Christian civilisation.

    It is multiculturism that has brought about the ghettos we see in our major cities, as described by the Archbishop’s fellow clergyman, the Bishop of Rochester, who following his comments that “non Muslims face a hostile reception in places dominated by the ideology of Islamic radicals” received death threats to himself and family.

    If Muslims were in power in this country there would only be one law, and that would be Sharia law, and we know what that means. Of course the Archbishop may have converted by then.

  5. 5 George USA
    February 8, 2008 at 12:35

    No, absolutely not.

    That is an attack against western countries as surely as a bomb.

    But the media claiming female abuse of Muslim women in their own country,

    demanding a Western woman role

    Is counter productive to the war effort.

    Imposition of Muslim practices on the West should be soundly and firmly rejected.

    No further attacks on their moral code for women would further resolution of the wars.

  6. 6 Brett
    February 8, 2008 at 12:46

    John in Germany poses some very interesting questions and comments. I especially agree with:

    “Would a minority in a Muslim land be allowed to imply there law in cases of relationships and money?. i think not.”

    Though Sharia law would certainly benefit Muslim communities within Western Culture, seeing as how the majority of Western traditional law is based upon Christian-esque principles.
    So do ‘we’ as Westerners treat ‘them’ as ‘they’ would treat ‘us’ in their country, as a minority? Or do we accomodate them and their religion and take a step to reach out to the Muslim communities within Western Cultures?
    I would love to see a step in the right direction to accomodate Muslims. However, what happens when Sharia law is rejected by the higher court, since the British law, as stated in the outlined plan would remain paramount? I can see that causing a clash of interests and being a potentially harmful situation to progress between the two cultures.

    On Mitt, Glad to see him gone. Regardless of how much more difficult McCain will make it for the Democrats to make it to the White House as opposed to the other Republican runners, I think McCain is the most qualified out of the Republican Party and as such should be a top contender for the Republicans in the White House. Whether or not it will make it harder for the Democrats to get in their or not is their own problem. The people will have a better pool to choose from come the final election, and that is what counts.
    I still say Ron Paul needs to be elected.

    Lastly, I am in full support of the lifting of Turkeys headscarf ban. Congrats to Turkey for overcomming a closeminded policy in an educational setting.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  7. 7 steve
    February 8, 2008 at 12:48

    The real problem occurs when people a party to the religious courts violate the decree, and then perhaps they might seek enforcement in the regular British courts. I would more view religious courts as arbitration, which really just makes a contract, and if you don’t perform your contractual duty, then you sue in regular courts for breach. Say if the contract is absolute violation of civil law? I.e., say for example, like in the US, people used to but racial covenants on the land. To A and his heirs, so long as A and his heirs marries only white people. Say if A’s grandson eventually marries an Asian, then according to the terms, the estate in the land would be gone, but the executory interest would have to sue for that. The US courts would never enforce a racist covenant like that now, so it would be invalid from the beginning. But would the British courts invalide some kind of contractual provision if it was contrary to British civil law?

    I guess I would have less of a problem with religious courts if they had no enforcement power on their own, and parties couldn’t seek enforcement in civil courts, thus relying on the good will only of the parties involved.

  8. February 8, 2008 at 13:09

    Those who would want to inject religious doctrine into governmental policy have no respect for either their religion or their government. Separation of Church and state is the only way to ensure neither are not corrupted by the other.

    I can see it now. “Your honor, my priest says I don’t owe my wife any support money because she eats meat on friday during lent, only goes to church on christmas and easter, doesn’t ‘honor or obey’ me, and because i made a $10,000 donation to the parish fund.”

  9. 9 John in Salem
    February 8, 2008 at 13:39

    If you want to let someone else dictate your morals then I don’t believe it matters which Bronze Age rulebook you play by.

  10. February 8, 2008 at 13:46

    seems that western democracies have been finally cowered by the fatwa-fanatics.

  11. February 8, 2008 at 14:07

    You could paste this story in the Wikipedia as an illustration for the proverbial “can of worms”. Where to begin?

    First of all, western morality may have its roots in Christianity, but western law does not. We base our laws on the Roman code – the Justinian code was followed until as late as 18th century in Europe, and most modern western codes of law still preserve heavy Roman influences. If you weren’t aware of this, Justinian was a “pagan” emperor – his Corpus Juris Civilis (or Civil Code) was issued in 530 BC.

    Secondly, we’re talking here about secular law – and I would really like to emphasize secular. Nobody would prevent a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or any other religious person to live his or her life according to the precepts of their respective religions. But when it comes to a binding law precept, I would rather it be the same for everyone. Introducing Sharia law as an official binding British law cannot possibly work. What if a Christian breaks Sharia? Does it still apply? Does one choose under which law to be judged? How does this resonate with all being equal before the court of law? Because it turns out that some are more equal than others.

    This is a slippery slope. Today it may be Sharia that’s changing your law system. What’s to prevent all the other religions pushing their own agenda into local laws?

    In all modern democratic states, justice, executive and lawmaking power are justly separated. Citizens have the right to choose their own religion, which should not interfere with the affairs of state. Oh, it can influence things – and I’m thinking now about a certain president chosen by the votes of a so-called “Bible belt”. But that’s just human error. Giving religion precepts the power of law is a mistake of biblical proportions.

    Laur in the Netherlands

  12. 12 steve
    February 8, 2008 at 15:12

    One thing I absolutely cannot stand about religious people (and some religious people) is how they impose their values on other people. Say if you had a problem with prostitution, or marijuana use. Don’t use prostitutes or marijuana. But don’t outlaw something because you don’t like it because it is against your values. It’s just like how I don’t like fish. I don’t like fish, I won’t eat fish, I feel sick even smelling fish, but if you want to eat fish, more power to you. So long as you aren’t harming someone else, then you shoudln’t be able to impose your values on that person. If there are consequences for their actions, let them be adults and face it. If they want STDs, let them. But don’t outlaw what they want to do because you don’t approve of it. And the same with the secularist lefties, example of banning smoking in bars. If the bar is owned by a smoker, the employeers are smokers, yet you ban smoking in that bar. why? Nobody has a problem with it but you. If you don’t like it, don’t go there, and don’t tell someone else how to run their business.

  13. 13 Shirley
    February 8, 2008 at 19:06

    Do people in the West have to prove themselve as low and base as repressive governments such as that of Saudi Arabia? Why insist that everyone else act nobly or show tolerance and acceptance towards others before they themselves do so? Why ot be true leaders and initiate such behaviour?

  14. 14 Iain Connochie
    February 10, 2008 at 12:29

    Religion was ultimately a way of imposing values on a human world whose values were of many variances and in many cases of a very low order.

    Humanity has since, purportedly, moved on, hence the values imposed by religion are now perceived to be outdated and are increasingly seen as being of a lower order, especially as they fail to move and change with evolutionary thought and evolutionary being of humanity.

    The world has been significantly changed by science, technology and education at various stages of history, and at each advancement human thoughts have also advanced. and changed in perspective and direction. Where advancements in technology and science have not occured and kept pace with the western world, so old ideals and perspective thought remains more unchanged, hence the older values of religion are all that people know in those areas.
    As countrys join with modern advancements and their peoples benefit from new technology, they also benefit from greater choice of knowledge and understanding, hence many leave older ideals behind. This can be seen in most countrys, from China to Iran to South Africa and India.

    If the world is to progress without religion, then people free from religion must understand that all that THEY do either encourages or disuades those of religion to join them or not and the same vice versa. The West makes everything so accessable from books to education to a huge variety of media. Religious countrys mainly deny their peoples these freedoms and at the same time pick out perceived bad aspects of western society to use as confirmation that their old religious ways are right.

    Information is easily manipulated and put to people which will have an instant reaction that is based solely on previously manipulated perceptions. This IS the case with Sharia Law issue within the UK legal system. Many people have been manipulated into reacting about something that they do not understand the reality of and full facts of, because they have been mis-informed by generalisations of Sharia law.
    There has been much negative reaction and even much hate generated by media over this issue. So many people are against being dictated to, told what to do, but they do not realise how easily they are manipulated into action and response just by suggestion alone.

    There are many many problems in the world, and much disagreement between ideologies, especially western ideology and Islam. I ask myself, where is this continued ignorance and manipulation by both partys, leading us and to what purpose.

    Is there no other way to change the world, except by manipulation and violence. History should be the greatest lesson to us all, but it is a lesson that many refuse to acknowledge and accept.

  15. February 14, 2008 at 11:03

    The question should there be Sharia Law in Britain seems a bit of a set up to begin with. Most people if asked this question would give an emphatic ‘No’ and most people seem to have linked it to something which Dr Rowan Williams is reported to have said. I have not read his speech ,which was to a group of people who think critically about legal matters which I doubt 99% of respondents do .
    It seems quite simply “get Rowan Williams’ ‘week.
    I have been sickened by it . There are many in his own church who are happy to attack him, and no doubt quite a few in Government who would like to rid themselves of a troublesome priest. We are constantly being asked what’ British Values ” are, if this weeks expressions of the great unwashed are a reflection of such I’m ashamed to be British! The most alarming statements come from within his own Church, such as ‘He is a brilliant man of course but he is not a leader and fit for the office of Archbishop because he’ s a very spiritual man but he is an Academic and belongs in Academia.’ Translated this means that he is unfit for office because he has a mind , unlike the member of the Synod who spoke! They should be reminded that Jesus was pretty academic sitting around debating the best Rabbis off his day, i doubt if most of his disciples really understood much of what he said but it was his actions that people really noticed. The Archbishop has been a man of action himself in protest against the arms race and a proponent of civil disobedience. I think this was more what he was talking about , that in a modern complex world we might be required by the State to go against our consciouses . Of course he is a man of Love and Peace , Integrity and Intelligence, not values which are currently in fashion.
    Unlike his detractors though he is not stupid. he is very fearful of Fundamentalism of all kinds but particularly the American kind which may well be the greatest threat to our system of Democracy here , as we adopt more and more the values and aspirations of our cousins across the pond.. It therefore follows , and here Rowan Williams is far ahead of anyone in his thinking , that Right Wing Christian Fundamentalism can gain political power. It is my feeling that by allowing a certain accommodation within the law for certain people so they don’t feel that they faced with having to choose a candidate because of their stand on Abortion or some such issue our ‘Democracy such as it is , might be safer from all groups that have such an agenda. The attacks on Dr Williams remind me of the attacks on Bertrand Russell who warned about the Atomic Arms race , he was laughed to scorn when he predicted that one day India would have the bomb, people would say that the man was a genius but of course did not know what he was talking about. My own grandmother , not a well read woman by any standards, would refer to him as’ a silly old fool.’ So time and time again we will hear that Dr Williams is not a leader and needs to be locked away in an Ivory tower where his words won’t trouble us or cause us to think . People equate leadership with bullying and dictatorship but this is one thing I know ROWAN WILLIAMS WILL NOT WEAR A NAZI UNIFORM UNLIKE MANY OF HIS DETRACTORS

    June 11, 2008 at 11:49

    Dear BBC,

    You may want to see how the world is revolutionarising and pace of violent embracing in the WORLD CURRENTLY. However, from a sharp economic face value analysis this tempts me to make a relevant assumption and mention that what is currently happening is a reflection of failure to allocate resources in an equitable manner and escalating poverty gaps both inter and intra – territorial clusters. There is also an aspect of loosing focus when people tend to easily and quickly opt to violence as a means and tool to re-align economic resources in any economic set up, therefore an overtly and critical rethinking on pertinent issues that are considered to be approaching the “edge of a cliff” must be given the urgent attention and reasonable impetus to avoid economic distortion and unecssary cause of human loss.

    The world at the moment is experiencing a number of challenges for instance the Americans are exporting war to Iraq, the Bush inertia in management style, Afthgastan and also seeking for further war markets in Iran and Lebanon, however they are being also hit by an inward looking economic instability caused by the infamous CREDIT CRUNCH. In addition, Iwould like to urge Africa to look at the dimensions and shifts of the credit crunch and reposition itself for the inevitable impacts (spill over effects) on their economies. Africa too must desist from adopting strategies that are reactive and embark on such that are proactive if its economic upwards adjustment is to be felt by a significant number of people that are currently in large massess and lavaging in shanty enclaves though most of them living next to many posters labelled “2015 MDGs possible” soory if am accelerating to fast in these issues but before l slum on my breaks Africa has huge resources i.e human power which is highly qualified even in relative terms if you want to pursue those lines, natural resource endowment, land abandant, consumption potential. So why are we still were we are (webbed in a cluster of poverty? Anyway some would say we are still working on some of our immediate constraints but at what pace and what measure? AFRICA open your eyes and stop being unpatriotic when it comes to development issues!


    Kelvin Kamayoyo

  17. 17 Dr.A.K.Tewari
    June 14, 2009 at 18:11

    Sharia is no more a valid law even for muslim community in this globaliirsed world. It is merely a law of conviniece for fanatics.

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