The Archbishop of Canterbury is at the centre of a row after suggesting that some aspects of Islamic Sharia law will unavoidably be introduced into the UK. Dr Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans, said that this could be a way to improve community cohesion.
“We do not simply have a stand-off between two rival legal systems when we discuss Islamic and British law,” he said.
“To recognize Sharia is to recognize a method of jurisprudence governed by revealed texts rather than a single system.”
But the archbishop’s comments have angered many who see the idea as a threat to the status and authority of British law.
UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
“I think there is one law in this country and it is the democratically determined law. That is the law I will uphold and that is the law that is at the heart of values that we share across all communities in this country.”
While the government has distanced itself from the remarks, Muslim groups have welcomed the idea.
Ibrahim Mogra of the Muslim Council of Britain said:
“I think he is very gracious to suggest there is scope in the British legal system to recognize aspects of Sharia. It is the greatness of a great man. I think the nation has to take his suggestion very seriously.”
Integration of Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims is a key issue. Britain already allows Orthodox Jews to resolve disputes under traditional Jewish law.