Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sharia Law in Britain 'A Recipe for Social Chaos'; under Fire: The Archbishop of Canterbury's "Heavy Lecture" Has Faced a Barrage of Criticism

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sharia Law in Britain 'A Recipe for Social Chaos'; under Fire: The Archbishop of Canterbury's "Heavy Lecture" Has Faced a Barrage of Criticism

Article excerpt

Byline: NICOLAS CECIL, JASON BEATTIE

THE Archbishop of Canterbury's claim that it seems "unavoidable" thatsome form of sharia law will be introduced in Britain today came under attackfrom his own senior clergy.

The Bishop of Southwark the Right Reverend Tom Butler cast doubts on theargument that the Islamic law will come into force in the UK.

He said: "It will take a great deal more thought and work before I think it's agood idea." Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether the Church ofEngland leader, Dr Rowan Williams, should have been more diplomatic in hisspeech which sparked the controversy, Dr Butler said: "The Archbishop has a waywith language but this was a very heavy lecture." He admitted that the DrWilliams had entered a "minefield" with his views on sharia law and it was notclear whether he would backtrack on behalf of the Church of England, on thisissue.

He said: "Like all bishops I'm waking up this morning to a shoal of emails fromclergy asking what's going on." Culture Secretary Andy Burnham also launched aferocious backlash against the Archbishop of Canterbury's claims about sharialaw. The Cabinet minister warned against such a radical legal shake-up in theUK stressing it would be a "recipe for social chaos".

Dr Williams faced a barrage of criticism for arguing that sharia law should begiven some form of legal status in the UK. Voicing the views of many MPs, MrBurnham said: "This isn't a path down which we should go. The system, theBritish legal system, should apply to everybody equally.

"You cannot run two systems of law alongside each other. That in my view wouldbe a recipe for chaos, social chaos. British law has to be based on Britishvalues.

"If people choose to live in this country, they choose to abide by that law andthat law alone. It has got to be fundamental and a cornerstone of our countryand our democracy that everybody is equal before that one system of Britishlaw." Dr Williams had made clear, ahead of his speech at the Royal Courts ofJustice on sharia law, that he expected it to spark debate. …

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