Center for Strategic Communication

by Steven R. Corman

Today the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, said in a radio interview that the adoption of some aspect of Sharia law in the UK is “unavoidable.” A BBC story quotes him as saying the idea that

there’s one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts – I think that’s a bit of a danger. There’s a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law.

The last part of the quote refers to an provision in British law that allows people to settle some disputes before an agreed third party, which is already applied in some cases for Muslims and Orthodox Jews. Though he doesn’t advocate wholesale adoption of Sharia law, he cites the example that Muslims might be allowed to settle divorces in a Sharia court rather than in conventional legal proceedings.

His comments have already set off a firestorm of criticism, and some have called for his ouster. Reaction is especially harsh in right-wing quarters of the UK, who believe that British culture is being eroded by its growing Muslim minority.

They cite cases like that of Bishop of Rochester Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, who reportedly received death threats after criticizing extremist Muslims in Brittan for creating defacto “no-go” areas for people of other faiths and cultures. Nazir-Ali, who was raised in Pakistan, blamed the country’s policy of multiculturalism for for creating division in society. The Telegraph reports that his comments were denounced by the Muslim Council of Britain as “frantic scaremongering.”