For years people have joked about Britain becoming an Islamic country. Now the Archbishop of Canterbury wants the country to take a step further in that direction.
Dr Williams argued, in a speech at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, for a “plural jurisdiction” that would allow Muslims to choose whether some legal disputes were resolved in secular or Sharia courts. He called for “constructive accommodation” over such issues as resolving marriage disputes.
Earlier, he told BBC Radio 4 that people should approach Islamic law with an open mind.
Although emphasising that there was no place for “extreme punishments” and discrimination against women, Dr Williams stressed the importance of making all communities “part of the public process” in order to limit any oppression.
There are nearly 1.6 million Muslims in Britain, representing 2.7 per cent of the total population. Sharia courts do exist, but they have no legal standing and their decisions are not binding.
Dr Williams said: “It seems unavoidable and, as a matter of fact, certain conditions of Sharia are already recognised in our society.”
However, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said that British law must be based on British values. “Sharia cannot be used as a justification for committing breaches of English law, nor should the principles of Sharia be included in a civil court for resolving contractual disputes,” he said.
Even leading members of the Church disagree with Dr Williams. The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who claimed recently that parts of Britain were no-go areas for non-Muslims, was one of the first to criticise Dr Williams. Dr Nazir-Ali, the country’s only Asian bishop, said: “English law is rooted in the Judaeo-Christian tradition and our notions of human freedoms derive from that tradition. It would be impossible to introduce a tradition like Sharia into this corpus without fundamentally affecting its integrity.”
It seems the country is falling apart since we left. No wonder the weather is so bad - it's retribution for all the barmy ideas that fill the newspapers on almost a daily basis.