Comments: more reactions in the Sharia row

Here's another "point of view" just in at -


Posted by BabyBlue at Friday, 8 February 2008 at 4:44pm GMT

He could have picked a better time to walk into the propeller blade, couldn't he?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Friday, 8 February 2008 at 4:57pm GMT

From the Times report: 'Virtually the only organisation to have come out on Dr Williams's side of the debate was the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir'

This just about sums up the helpfulness of Williams' proposals. I wonder if gullibility will be the word that sums up his primacy? For hardliners everywhere he has been a dream - naively assuming at every turn that they can be taken at their word, and pandering to their demands.

The snobbish defence of Dr Williams by some on the basis of his intelligence and all-to-subtle approach to theological matters is beside the point. He has let down progressive Muslims in a similar way to that in which he has let down progressive Christians. As Shaista Gohir, director of Muslim Voice UK, said today, by making the implementation of Sharia law seem 'unavoidable' you are making it that much more difficult for those who want to escape the rigid dictats of the clerical establishment. And she points out: 'various polls have so far indicated that around 40% of British muslims want Sharia law. Although this is a significant percentage, why ignore the views of the other 60%?' It is surprising that Williams was unaware that similar pandering to clerics occured in Canada, when it was assumed that all Muslims wanted to have Shar'ia family law foisted upon them. On that occasion the Canadian Council of Muslim Women and women's rights activists, such as Homa Arjomand fought successfully to prevent vulnerable women being subjected to these bodies:

It is absurdly sensationalist to be calling for his resignation, but I wonder whether Rowan will sit down after Lambeth and ponder whether he is not better suited to the life of academia and the cloister than leadership of the Anglican communion. It is painful to watch him struggle on, spreading harm.

Posted by John Omani at Friday, 8 February 2008 at 6:22pm GMT

Ok. Let's look at what he actually said.

On the question of surrendering to the will of the "primitivists" (Williams's own word to describe ultra conservative Islamic jurists):

"[Sacher]...argues that if we are serious in trying to move away from a model that treats one jurisdiction as having a monopoly of socially defining roles and relations, we do not solve any problems by a purely uncritical endorsement of a communal legal structure which can only be avoided by deciding to leave the community altogether. We need, according to Shachar, to ‘work to overcome the ultimatum of “either your culture or your rights”"

What about the Canadian experience?

"a communal/religious nomos, to borrow Shachar’s vocabulary, has to think through the risks of alienating its people by inflexible or over-restrictive applications of traditional law, and a universalist Enlightenment system has to weigh the possible consequences of ghettoising and effectively disenfranchising a minority, at real cost to overall social cohesion and creativity. Hence ‘transformative accommodation’: both jurisdictional parties may be changed by their encounter over time, and we avoid the sterility of mutually exclusive monopolies."

IOW, why don't we just **read the speech** before becoming "absurdly sensationalist".

Posted by Justin Lewis-Anthony at Friday, 8 February 2008 at 7:55pm GMT

John Omani: "ponder whether he is not better suited to the life of academia"

I keep wondering about whether Lambeth 2008 should be the venue for Anglican Bishops to finally *choose* one of the Primates to be "first among equals", rather than just accepting the person *appointed* as Primate of All England. Of the historical churches, only the Anglican Communion has such a feudal system.

It can't be right in a modern global church that its spiritual leaders is selected by a committee that was appointed by just one Province's religious and political leaders?!

Posted by david wh at Saturday, 9 February 2008 at 12:28am GMT

"a communal/religious nomos, to borrow Shachar’s vocabulary, has to think through the risks of alienating its people by inflexible or over-restrictive applications of traditional law,..' (RW)

Now Apply this to lgbt people in the Churches

Posted by L Roberts at Saturday, 9 February 2008 at 4:55am GMT

To all you "thinking" Anglicans.
Go to the BBC Website and scan some of the unprecendented 20,000 posts (MP's tell us if they get 20 letters on a topic it means many peope are concerned) and ponder the terrible damage this "thinking" Archbishop has done to the Co of E, interfaith and community relations in Britain and the many millions of Christians around the world who live under the fierce oppression of shariah.
Resignation sensationalist? You really ought to get out more.

Posted by Ken Hyde at Saturday, 9 February 2008 at 10:14pm GMT

"the terrible damage this "thinking" Archbishop has done to the Co of E,"

Is it the archbishop who has done this damage, or the Press that has, it appears, misrepresented what he said so as to profit through sensationalism? The Globe and Mail in Toronto yesterday, for example, reported that he "argued sternly for a stronger application of Islamic sharia law" (Sat. Feb 9, 2008, page F3) and that he called "for more acceptance and wider adoption of Islamic Law in Britain". (same page, same article). Is this what he actually said? My understanding is that he answered a question on a highly nuanced topic. I don't think he should resign because the Press are a bunch of piranhas spinning his words for a sensationalistic circulation/ratings grab. Why should we cave in just because the Press has lost all interest in fact?

Posted by Ford Elms at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 4:15pm GMT

'Why should we cave in just because the Press has lost all interest in fact?'

Ford, I am usually sympathetic to Rowan, but I am not convinced this time that the damage can be attributed simply to press misinterpretations, if indeed they are all misinterpretations. To call for changes to the law is to involve yourself in politics, and he ought to have given a great deal more thought to expressing himself in as clear a way as possible. We all know from the Pope's Regensburg lecture in 2006 how the press loves to gorge itself whenever Christian leaders mention Islam.

His lecture and interview did nothing to deflect misinterpretation. If he was calling for muslim tribunals to develop under the terms of the 1996 Arbitration Act, then he was making a great fuss about circumstances which already existed under English law; to move then into a grand jurisprudential discussion about the desirability of 'plural juristictions' and of loosening the authority of a 'secular legal monopoly' is to dally with matters of grand constitutional importance.

Moreover, his mistaken assumption that the existence of the Jewish Beth Din tribunals was akin to incorporating foreign religious law into English law, and his misunderstanding of determined opposition to 'plural juristictions' by progressives within the Muslim community, has spread confusion, let down liberal muslims, and damaged interfaith relations.

Leaving aside the constitutional issues, some of his arguments in the lecture and interview continue to disturb: even Simon Barrow's generous interpretation highlights all sorts of troubling ideas that the function of law is there to 'send signals' about the concerns of religious groups, fatalism about the extension of religious exemptions to the law, and his questioning of the universality of equality before the law.

While defending Rowan from the most sensationalist headlines, there is plenty of criticism which is well merited, and gives cause for concern about both his judgment and his current political strategy.

Posted by John Omani at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 11:55pm GMT
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