The Archbishop of Canterbury has caused a lot of trouble by saying something sensible. Meanwhile, the British press (even the BBC) is acting like its normal hysterical tabloid self and turning it into an even bigger storm in a teacup. Let’s recap. Rowan Williams commented,
‘Dr Williams told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday that he believed the adoption of some Sharia law in the UK seemed “unavoidable”.’
And the crazy people started yelling. Oh yes, and don’t forget that Sharia law is ALREADY allowed as a dispute resolution mechanism outside the normal courts here in the UK:
‘Under English law, people may devise their own way to settle a dispute in front of an agreed third party as long as both sides agree to the process.
Muslim Sharia courts and Orthodox Jewish courts which already exist in the UK come into this category.’
So why is everyone up in arms? Why? Hello??? A few sensible comments have been uttered:
‘Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said he was “saddened” by the way the archbishop had been misunderstood.
“I think he did raise a point of considerable interest and concern at the moment, namely, the rights of a religious groups within secular state.
“Everyone in Britain must obey the law and therefore the question of how one can be a loyal British citizen and a faithful member of a religious group is a very pertinent question,”‘
But for the most part, most of what is going on here is absolute nonsense. There are calls for him to resign, statement that he has lost the world’s faith in the Anglican church, etc. Of course, there was this gem of a quote in the BBC article, from a Lord Carey:
‘“There can be no exceptions to the laws of our land which have been so painfully honed by the struggle for democracy and human rights.’
That I loved. Living in the UK as an expat, you are a second class citizen in many ways. The government is adding to the burden, with things like required registration/ID cards for foreigners, and there’s always my favorite “must ask the home office for permission to marry” bit. So I’m not sure I’d go with the “finely honed democracy and civil rights” part of that, I think this is where xenophobic Britain has a lot of work to do. And of course I’m white and American, with a good job and so my experiences here are only the tip of the iceburg compared with what many other immigrants and visitors must face.
Regardless, I urge the British press to stop the fear-mongering, I urge “respected church leaders” to stop yammering about this one. Sharia law is already here, it is finding a niche within British civil law, and Dr Williams was being quite sensible in noting this and wondering whether it would someday have an expanded role.