Archbishop: UK Should Adopt Parts of Sharia Law

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Byline: NICHOLAS CECIL

THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury sparked controversy today by arguing thatthe adoption of some aspects of Islamic sharia law in the UK seems unavoidable.

Dr Rowan Williams said there was a place for finding a constructiveaccommodation in areas such as marriage and financial affairs between Islamicand secular laws, which he believes would help maintain social cohesion.

Dr Williams told BBC Radio: It seems unavoidable and, as a matter of fact,certain conditions of sharia are already recognised in our society and underour law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system.

We already have in this country a number of situations in which the internallaw of religious communities is recognised by the law of the land as justifyingconscientious objections in certain circumstances.

The Church of England leader said incorporating Islamic laws into the Britishlegal system would require a change in perception of what sharia involvedbeyond the inhumanity of extreme punishments, such as stonings and hangings,and attitudes to women seen in some Islamic states. He singled out harshpunishments administered in Saudi Arabia. Sharia law could be used instead ofthe divorce courts, though people should be given a choice of which system touse.

He said: There is a place for finding what would be a constructiveaccommodation with some aspects of Muslim law as we already do with aspects ofother kinds of religious law.

But he added: It would be quite wrong to say that we could ever license asystem of law for some community which gave people no right of appeal, no wayof exercising the rights that are guaranteed to them as citizens in general. …