Sorry, Rowan. Archdhimmi of Canterbury Update.
Many have pointed out that Orthodox Jews have private arbitration courts for marriage and family issues, and that’s all that Williams was saying Muslims should have in Britain. But there are key differences: Islamic law is a program for the governance of the state, and there is no easy sundering of that program from family and marriage law, so it is certain that if Islamic law is instituted even in part in the UK, some Muslims will press for the rest to follow, including the institutionalized subjugation of non-Muslims.
From AP (thanks to all who sent this in):
LONDON, England (AP) — The archbishop of Canterbury has called for a limited application of Islamic law in Britain. Muslims praised the proposal but the government rejected it.
Rowan Williams, the UK’s highest ranking Christian leader, is noted for addressing controversial issues.
The unusual suggestion from Britain’s highest ranking Christian leader Thursday would, if adopted, allow British Muslims to choose to resolve marital and financial disputes under Islamic law, known as Shariah, rather than through British courts.
Archbishop Rowan Williams said in a radio interview with the BBC that incorporating Islamic law could help improve Britain’s flagging social cohesion.
“Certain provisions of Shariah are already recognized in our society and under our law, so it’s not as if we’re bringing in an alien and rival system,” said Williams, who gave a speech on the topic Thursday night.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s spokesman immediately rejected Williams’ proposal.
“The prime minister believes British law should apply in this country, based on British values,” said Michael Ellam.
The idea was also rejected by Sayeed Warsi, an opposition spokeswoman for social affairs. She said all British citizens had to be subject to the same laws developed by Parliament.
Williams said he was not advocating that Britain allow extreme aspects of Shariah, which has been associated with harsh punishments meted out by Islamic courts in Saudi Arabia and some other countries and has been used to undermine the rights of women.
“Nobody in their right mind” would want to see that, he said. He called for “a clear eye” when discussing Islamic law.
Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the use of Shariah would help lower tensions in British society.
“It would make Muslims more proud of being British,” he said. “It would give Muslims the sense that the British respect our faith.”
I can see the second point, but I don’t see the first. How would it make Muslims in Britain feel anything but contempt for the kafir British laws from which they are exempt?
Shafiq said it was important that non-Muslims in Britain understand that Williams is not suggesting Shariah be adopted for resolving criminal charges, but only civil disputes.
Shafiq and Williams noted that Britain already allows Orthodox Jews to resolve disputes under traditional Jewish law. […]
But there are dangers involved in letting one community apply one type of justice while another uses a different system, said Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle East studies at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, who has written extensively about militant Islam.
“It’s a minefield,” he said. “Britain is a nation of laws, once you say to a community that they can apply their own laws, you are establishing a dangerous precedent.”