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Has reaction to the Archbishop's Sharia law comments been Islamophobic?

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Feb 08, 10:32 AM

Dr Rowan WilliamsPoliticians from all the main parties have criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury for suggesting that elements of Islamic law might be recognised in Britain. Some senior Anglican priests have defended his remarks - saying Dr Rowan Williams was talking about decisions relating to marriage and property, not crimes or questions of belief.

Has the response to the Archbishop's comments been Islamophobic or does this pose a genuine threat to British culture?

We'll discuss the issues on the programme tonight - leave your thoughts below.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 01:34 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • John Lewis wrote:

There can only be one law of the land and that is British Law. Having said that, there is no reason why the Sharia Courts should not have the same rights or consideration as the Beth Din, the Jewish religious court. i.e. they rule on divorce and Jews cannot remarry in synagogue without a Jewish religious divorce. But this has no bearing on civil divorce, and Jews cannot remarry without a civil divorce.

  • 2.
  • At 01:35 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Even a Islamic arbitration would be unfair because women would fear violence or social exclusion if they opted for civil law.

  • 3.
  • At 01:35 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Declan Maguire wrote:

Live in Britain work in Britain, live by British laws and standards!
The rules are the rules and in such respect one size does fit all!
Muslims men are allowed more than one wife so I believe, the law of this country states this to be bigamy (a crime) and just because a religion says it is legal to have more than one wife does not mean that the law of every land should adopt it!
In defence of the Muslim community, may I also say it is recognised that it is not the Muslim community demanding these things. This is another shinning example of silly white men trying to give this country away to anybody who wants it and frankly its disgraceful.

  • 4.
  • At 01:38 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • nicholas aluko wrote:

Perhaps the laws of the land could be brought up to date and made more relevant to our lives in the UK by taking the best of both worlds/cultures and applying them where appropriate.I don't think there is any harm in doing this. We seem to have lost a lot of values in this country and no one seems to have principles anymore. We need a debate on this issue to shakes up and do us some good.

I always used to think that when in a country, you abide by the laws of the land......perhaps I was wrong! If Sharia law was to be introduced to the UK, would that also mean that any British person in Saudi/Iran etc would only conform to British law too, ignoring the laws of their land?

  • 6.
  • At 01:39 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ian Knowles wrote:

This man has a talent for inflaming tensions.
we need a common code of standards and behaviour in order to maintain both our society and our freedoms.
'this is how it works in England'. If this isn;t what you want, then no-ne forces you to stay here.

Very much a 'when in Rome......@

  • 7.
  • At 01:39 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • richard wrote:

His remarks were no doubt well intentioned.

But it's ludicrous to even consider his suggestions.

He as achieved nothing except to generate even more disquiet about the invasion of Muslim culture into the country.

I go further. I think the day is not too far away when the populace will say - enough.

  • 8.
  • At 01:40 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Daphne Dale wrote:

I think the archbishop should be more concerned in the falling numbers in his congregation in his church than dabling in politics!

  • 9.
  • At 01:40 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Dr. Williams has in the past made numerous wise and important pronouncements, but this time he seems to have gone right off the rails.

  • 10.
  • At 01:45 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Toyin Ibrahim wrote:

Well, the archbishop needs to urgently clarify his comments on the islamic laws in Britian to avoid being misquoted out of points.He should understand that tolerance begins with the way we view things.Of course ,this will certainly pose a threat to British culture.

  • 11.
  • At 01:45 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Umm Muhammad wrote:

I am afraid to say that the coverage has been islamophobic. I was schocked when I viewed the BBC 2-minute video summary on the Internet portraying, I think only 20 seconds after the explanation had started, a black man lashing a young person in front of a crowd of black children who looked dismayed. Why that? Why not try and have a think about what the Archbishop meant? I think the whole reaction is so really stupid. I am convinced that the archbishop is a thoughtful man however, if he is so thoughtful, could he not guess that his remarks would be misconstrued and that the same bad images of Islam and so-called Islamic law being implemented wherever ( real Islamic law is implemented NOWHERE at all and I know what I am talking about) would just come up AGAIN and AGAIN? I dont know but if even somebody like me could figure this out , he could have too, and therefore I am pondering about the significance and relevance of this declaration. If you are fighting prejudice, you try and do it in a clever way, not like that...To me this has only achieved one thing: reinforce the idea in the English commoner that all what Muslims are after is changing their country's law, habits etc. Have you ever seen ordinary British Muslims discussing how vital it is for them that British law change? Thought so.

  • 12.
  • At 01:46 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Simon Ladd wrote:

Given the nature of an Established Church the Archbishop is little more than a Civil Servant in a dog collar and gaiters. As such his time and efforts would be much better utilised looking after the interests of the C. of E. and its members rather than dabbling in areas that are beyond his remit.

  • 13.
  • At 01:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Farrell-Vinay wrote:

We've been here before: At one time there was English law and the Canon law of the Catholic Church. Although this was an improvement on the preceding system in which there were 4 geographically-separate but competing legal systems in England, having two competing systems was still a bad thing. So we had the Reformation (does the AoC remember?) in which Anglican Canon Law was firmly subservient to English Law.

So if we're to have Sharia law (in any form) what's to stop the return of Catholic Canon Law and indeed the introduction of the Rabbinical code?

If you are to have a legal system you must police it. Who will police the Sharia system?

  • 14.
  • At 01:53 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Andrew Dougal wrote:

I don't think that this has anything to do with islamophobia. The ABC's comments were extremely ill advised and will give comnfort to extremists, while undermining the efforts of moderate muslims.

Everyone should be equal before the law in a democracy, and, while there should be a compassionate interpretation of the law to accomodate factors like culture, religion and other special circumstances, that is not an argument for seperate legal systems on any level.

Sharia will be enforced by unelected greybeards and will certianly not be a voluntary option if they have anything to do with it.

The ABC is unwittingly colluding inputting pressure on vulnerable muslims community members - particularly women, to allow themselves to be even further isolated from the mainstream.

  • 15.
  • At 01:53 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • nicholas aluko wrote:

Perhaps the laws of the land could be brought up to date and made more relevant to our lives in the UK by taking the best of both worlds/cultures and applying them where appropriate.I don't think there is any harm in doing this. We seem to have lost a lot of values in this country and no one seems to have principles anymore. We need a debate on this issue to shake us up and do us some good.

  • 16.
  • At 01:54 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jackie Rupert wrote:

Not Islamaphobic.

Just NO. How about 'when in Rome'.You are welcome but - Don't like our culture, then don't stay.

  • 17.
  • At 01:55 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • judith wrote:

i thing we should stay with british law .if we went to live in muslim country we would expect to keep there laws even if only going for a holiday .judith

  • 18.
  • At 01:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Helen Russell wrote:

The sign of a true democratic multicultural society is that the state makes provisions for fair and equitable decision-making for all members of society, regardless of religious, ethnic identity nor sexual orientation. Therefore one set of rules for all seems fundamentally necessary. Democractic principles dictate that human rights are respected and therefore our institutional arrangements and democratic process are designed to reflect this reality.

When are we going to accept that we are a multicultural society and that our legal system provides the only common framework to defend unifying basic human rights? Amending legal provisions to any specific faith over others is the start of a very steep and slippery slope which leads directly to inertia restricted by the straitjacket of political correctness.

  • 19.
  • At 01:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • David Smith wrote:

The point is, this is totally unnecessary.

Any people who are mutually agreeable to having disputes resolved by Sharia law, are quite at liberty to do so, as long as the judgement does not conflict with British Law.

To suggest that muslims should be exempt from British law in ANY way is preposerous. If they can't live under our laws, the answer is simple - leave.

  • 20.
  • At 01:58 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mark Baillie wrote:

Allegations of Islamophobia are irrelevant to this issue of the rule of law and of democracy.

Anyone is free to come to any private contractual agreement as long as it does not infringe the law of the land. So to that extent some Shari'a (and other religious) law is already allowed but if Shari'a or any other rules conflict with the law then they are illegal.

To make any exception would be to undermine the rule of law, the requirement that all laws are for all citizens and are applied equally - the very basis of a free society. It would also undermine democracy, as our laws are laws made by citizens, not laws made by a supernatural force or a conclave of theologists.

Any such exception would rapidly be tested to destruction by similar claims by Rastafarians, Scientologists, Mormons, Wiccans and anyone who cared to set up a religion.

  • 21.
  • At 01:59 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2008/02/relative_satisfaction.html

Velma (#6) The Tchenguiz Brothers are Jewish.

1) The 'Christians' have dangerously below replacement level TFRs, and are headed towards extinction sooner than most people grasp, unless something radical is done to reverse this trend.

2) Islam's 'sexism' (anti sexism is a 'Human Rights' concept, note) accounts for Islam's higher than replacement level TFR. That is normal and biologically fit.

3) Where is the pressure coming from?

4) How good can 'Christian' values be if they result in LOSS of 'biological fitness' (always measured by reproductive rate)? It was even worse in Catholicism where the brighter males went into the celibate clergy (whose 'clever' dysgenic idea was that?).

5) These (essentially dysgenic s covered elsewhere at great length) practices are not Jewish practices (not within Orthodox Judaism anyway). But many of the most influential feminists were/are disproportionately rebellious Jews.

This does require some serious thought/debate, but I suspect this will not happen, for classic PC reasons. This is not necessarily a conscious process (cf. jahilyyah, or cognitive scomata), and most rational debate rests on the participants being aware of their assumptions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jahiliyyah

The archbishop has shown wisdom and courage.

  • 22.
  • At 02:04 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Caroline Sawyer wrote:

The Archbishop's comments are totally inappropriate and irresponsible - another sad day for the Anglican church. I wonder if he actually knows what opening the door to Sharia law in Britain implies. Furthermore, would he expect Muslim countries to adopt our laws so that we, a minority of Christians feel more at home there? I think not.

This has nothing to do with Islamaphobia, it has to do with our ability to stand up for our own Western, Christian culture, ideals and law. If this is not good enough for our Muslim residents then they need to find somewhere else to live.

Britain for centuries has been seen as a country with one of the finest legal systems in the world - what exactly are we doing even thinking of compromising it?

I would suggest the Archbishop does a bit of research on the implications of Sharia law for women specifically in the areas of marriage and property, before he welcomes it so whole-heartedly.

  • 23.
  • At 02:04 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Yvonne Stevens wrote:

I think that tolerance and respect for others' cultures and religions is part and parcel of our law as well as our values as British people. Also central to our laws and belief system is the belief that there is one law for all and that noone is an exception or above the law. I do not see how a society like ours could function without this premise. Thinkers like Martin Amis have raised their doubts about the whole notion of a multi cultural society and although I do not believe everything he says this move towards thinking that we have many cultures and religions in this country and therefore we should include their laws alongside out own is not just muddled thinking but purely dangerous.

  • 24.
  • At 02:05 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

Claims of islamophobia seem to be yet another case of anyone speaking out in defense of anything British automatically meaning the speaker is racist. What other nation in the world would accept foreign laws to be introduced, even to the extent of labeling any anyone who has the audacity to speak out against the proposal as xenophobic.

  • 25.
  • At 02:06 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Rob Slack wrote:

Phobias are irrational. It is not irrational to reject the thin end of the Sharia wedge.

  • 26.
  • At 02:06 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Alan Benson wrote:

Myths and superstitions should form no part of politics or the law.

  • 27.
  • At 02:06 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Dr Barry Clayton wrote:

The Archbishop has always been a bit of of a loose cannon. His remarks are a classic example of the dangers of allowing a philosopher to enter the real world.

  • 28.
  • At 02:07 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Willy Van Damme wrote:

Well often within religious and very closed communities it is the priest or the elder that takes decisions on a lot of things. A marriage is near break down and wife or man or both turn to their parish priest for council. This no doubt happens in Islamic communities too. And frankly the outside world in most cases shouldn't bother. It is a private matter between grown-ups.
Regarding the reactions to this proposition, no doubt many but not all were clearly islamophobic ones. Nowadays being islamophobic is in and threating them with contempt or even jail for their beliefs is sadly no longer an exception. It all reminds me of the anti-Jewish attitude in the first half of the last century. An we all know how that ended. It's therefore shocking to see Zionist Jews often taking the lead in this witch hunt against things Muslim. But no real surprise. Europa has always had a very racist attitude towards others.

  • 29.
  • At 02:10 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • judith wrote:

i thing we should stay with british law .if we went to live in muslim country we would expect to keep there laws even if only going for a holiday .judith

  • 30.
  • At 02:11 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Marco Mascioli wrote:

After a day someone is already having second thoughts about this nonsense. Will now whoever doesn't agree with what Dr Williams said be branded as Islamophobic? I am an Italian, former Roman Catholic. I have officially given up my Catholicism right because of the negative influence that the Catholic Church has always had and still has in the civil society of my native Country. I live permanently since 8 years in the United Kingdom and it can be fairly said that I have brought quite a lot to this Country since someone invited me to come. My duty is to respect laws and rules of a Country that has been fantastically welcoming to me, and it comes perfectly natural, as I don't need any effort at all. However, if I didn't like the rules any more, it would be as cheap as £20 single (including taxes and VAT) to leave.

  • 31.
  • At 02:12 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Ward wrote:

This just underlines how uninformed the Arch is. Does he really understand the implications of such a statement. Does he really understand the oppressive nature of the Sharia Law which undermines women. There should not be an alternative Law systems. it undermines the existing system. he should keep focus on his churches mission to spread the Christian message of Love Care and hope to all.

  • 32.
  • At 02:12 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Willy Van Damme wrote:

Well often within religious and very closed communities it is the priest or the elder that takes decisions on a lot of things. A marriage is near break down and wife or man or both turn to their parish priest for council. This no doubt happens in Islamic communities too. And frankly the outside world in most cases shouldn't bother. It is a private matter between grown-ups.
Regarding the reactions to this proposition, no doubt many but not all were clearly islamophobic ones. Nowadays being islamophobic is in and threating them with contempt or even jail for their beliefs is sadly no longer an exception. It all reminds me of the anti-Jewish attitude in the first half of the last century. An we all know how that ended. It's therefore shocking to see Zionist Jews often taking the lead in this witch hunt against things Muslim. But no real surprise. Europa has always had a very racist attitude towards others.

  • 33.
  • At 02:12 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Zubeda wrote:

I'm not going to give a yes or no answer as that simplifies the matter and reducing it to "which side are you on" debate.

As a Muslim, born and bred in the UK I worry when reading reader responses on the BBC website about how people perceive the issue of sharia law, when as a Muslim I can't even begin to explain what sharia law is. Can those wading in the debate even give examples of sharia law?

I wonder if some readers are even aware of their own British identity and are they frightened about another group which has perceived strong identities?

I am also worried that some of the responses reflect words to the effect of "go back to where you come from if you can't live under OUR laws."

Lastly, I just want to say that this 'debate' has NOT been prompted by Muslims publicly asking for Sharia law but from the Archbishop. Yet, reading the press you would think otherwise.

I value the spirit in which the Archbishop spoke but
I just want to say we don't want yet more spokespeople speaking on behalf of Islam. We can do that ourselves. The Archbishop should instead do more constructive work on behalf of his congregation.

  • 34.
  • At 02:15 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

Dr Rowan Williams should be ashamed of his comments. In his role he should be standing up for this country’s established laws & beliefs which are inherently linked. How can his position be tenable when he is spouting such rhetoric.

  • 35.
  • At 02:16 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • richard wrote:

His remarks were no doubt well intentioned.

But it's ludicrous to even consider his suggestions.

He as achieved nothing except to generate even more disquiet about the invasion of Muslim culture into the country.

I go further. I think the day is not too far away when the populace will say - enough.

  • 36.
  • At 02:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Willy Van Damme wrote:

Well often within religious and very closed communities it is the priest or the elder that takes decisions on a lot of things. A marriage is near break down and wife or man or both turn to their parish priest for council. This no doubt happens in Islamic communities too. And frankly the outside world in most cases shouldn't bother. It is a private matter between grown-ups.
Regarding the reactions to this proposition, no doubt many but not all were clearly islamophobic ones. Nowadays being islamophobic is in and threating them with contempt or even jail for their beliefs is sadly no longer an exception. It all reminds me of the anti-Jewish attitude in the first half of the last century. An we all know how that ended. It's therefore shocking to see Zionist Jews often taking the lead in this witch hunt against things Muslim. But no real surprise. Europa has always had a very racist attitude towards others.

  • 37.
  • At 02:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Anna M wrote:

The whole principle of Rule of Law, on which our entire legal system, and indeed constitution, rests, relies upon there being one clear set of rules and laws. To have two concurrent sets of laws would undermine everyone our society is based upon. The only conceivable way the Archbishops comments could work in practice is if elements of Sharia law are integrated into our current, age old, and world-envied legal system.

  • 38.
  • At 02:21 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Marco Mascioli wrote:

After a day someone is already having second thoughts about this nonsense. Will now whoever doesn't agree with what Dr Williams said be branded as Islamophobic? I am an Italian, former Roman Catholic. I have officially given up my Catholicism right because of the negative influence that the Catholic Church has always had and still has in the civil society of my native Country. I live permanently since 8 years in the United Kingdom and it can be fairly said that I have brought quite a lot to this Country since someone invited me to come. My duty is to respect laws and rules of a Country that has been fantastically welcoming to me, and it comes perfectly natural, as I don't need any effort at all. However, if I didn't like the rules any more, it would be as cheap as £20 single (including taxes and VAT) to leave.

  • 39.
  • At 02:22 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Victor Perry wrote:

I would not think of going to a country, where Sharia law was in force, as I would not expect to be exempted from its regulations or penalties. Similarly, if Moslems choose to come to another country, they should abide by that country's laws. The remark by the Moslem cleric that in a country where there are more Moslem women than men, there should be polygamy, because otherwise the only choices for a Moslem woman are to be a nun or a prostitute or remain single, reveals an bigotry that in other circumstances would be unbelievable. (In a country where there are more Moslem men than women, do they practice polyandry?)

  • 40.
  • At 02:23 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Jones wrote:

Are people in the UK not permitted to critise the religion of Islam and its followers?

There are frequent critisims of the Catholic church in the UK, but Newsnight never asks whether is it Catholicphobic.


  • 41.
  • At 02:24 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • MB wrote:

Allegations of Islamophobia are irrelevant to this issue of the rule of law and of democracy.

Anyone is free to come to any private contractual agreement as long as it does not infringe the law of the land. So to that extent some Shari'a (and other religious) law is already allowed but if Shari'a or any other rules conflict with the law then they are illegal.

To make any exception would be to undermine the rule of law, the requirement that all laws are for all citizens and are applied equally - the very basis of a free society. It would also undermine democracy, as our laws are laws made by citizens, not laws made by a supernatural force or a conclave of theologists.

Any such exception would rapidly be tested to destruction by similar claims by Rastafarians, Scientologists, Mormons, Wiccans and anyone who cared to set up another religion.

This CofE cleric has uttered dangerous nonsense. Recently Australia,s PM advised his muslim community to accept their adopted country as it is or get out. What a couragious politician! UK law applies to all and has never been overridden by any religious laws. Although the bulk of indiginous Britons are not church attenders they remain Christian in their customs and attitudes. We britons have always been kind to immigrants in need,but we neither need or want imported religions.This cleric should resign or become a Muslim!

  • 43.
  • At 02:26 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • William Nation wrote:

Regardless of whether one thinks that the CofE is frankly rather sad in supporting minority interests because of its own failure to promote its core business of Christianity, you cannot have two legal systems operating in a civilsed western country.

Rather than make silly uninformed remarks, Rowan Williams would do well to go and experience Sharia Law in somewhere like Nigeria where it is alive and well in the northern part of the country and where it completely overrules the law of the land. Punishments (which follow extremely arbitrary judgements) include tieing women to a stake and beating them with a lash for having children out of wedlock and having your hand cut off for stealing a car.

Whether one thinks that a sterner form of justice might indeed be a good thing in this country, let us please stop this nonsense of allowing minority groups to do as they please and maybe start taking the same viewpoint that John Howard has recently taken in Australia, that they are a Christian country with Christian principles and where people speak in the main English, and if any muslims find this hard to take, there is nothing stopping them going back to their own lands to carry out their barbaric practices.

William Nation


  • 44.
  • At 02:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

I am old enough to be reminded of the sketch between Mel Smith and Rowan Atkinson pondering whether Satanists could be allowed into the Church of England..

Joking apart, if a small minority of the comments in response to Rowan Williams' comments have been Islamophobic, then it might teach him not to speak such utter nonsense on the topic. This is a subject which would benefit from more considered discussion of human rights and civil liberties than the broad church waffle delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This pandering to all minority beliefs, no matter how divisive or illiberal is just inciting the very Islamophobia the Government is trying to control. And who is defining the word 'Islamophobia' anyway ?

Were the people who were giving the Catholic adoption agencies a good kicking for their stance on civil partnerships being accused of Catholiphobia ?

I'm not religious myself, although I am all in favour of people having the maximum freedom to pursue it for them selves - but a level playing field is required, otherwise we will have the freedom of expression to criticise any of it.

  • 45.
  • At 02:28 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Steve Savi wrote:

Its a tough one; we are caught between two worlds and both are changing. Walking the line between intolerance and your own ethical, moral and religious views is a perilous journey.

Perhaps some of our dilemma lies in the fact that there are many words we have forgotten in our "new world, microwave pop-corn, fast-food culture":

Words like courage, conviction and integrity. As we teach these words, are we teaching the shades of complexity that live with them? Do our children realise that courage is about having the stamina to live your beliefs in a world full of compromise; and sometimes courage means laying down our own ideals to protect someone else’s? Do we insist that integrity also means you have to learn about where to compromise and where to stand firm.

Most importantly, do we teach Love – true Love? Not the sex-driven, selfish lust of no consequence and shallow roots. Do we really, truly seek Love? St. Francis of Assisi said “Love God and do whatever you like”.

One ancient text explains that Love covers a multitude of sins. The same text says that Love is patient and kind, it does not envy or boast; it is not proud or rude and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the Truth. Love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails.

It is much to ask for two races, creeds and religions to unite on doctrine. Our only chance is to unite on the principles of Love.

  • 46.
  • At 02:29 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Adrian Leonard Williams wrote:

The Archbishop of Canterbury (Caliphatebury?) has made the mistake of entering into an academic debate on a subject which anyone who has spent many years in the muslim world would have given him clear advice to avoid. Why those in positions of responsibility want to lead their flock in that direction is a mystery; I would advise anyone who wants to pontificate on these matters to spend a year or two in Saudi Arabia or even a so called liberal muslim society, live next door to a mosque and then come back and tells us about how enriching it has been.

  • 47.
  • At 02:30 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • john wragg wrote:

Your questions reflect the continuing BBC attempt at sensationalism/dumbing down of Newsnight. This has been one of the saddest BBC/UK developments in national and global context over about the past 3 years.

Paxman has refered to it obliquely at times and I look to him/others to reverse this over time.

As to your question the whole issue was so bizzare that it was nipped in the bud by all sane people and institutions, inluding HMG, 24 hours ago and is no longer news/newsworthy/Newsnight debatable worthy.

Strewth. Talk about trying to milk a non story and a non person re the British people, British politics, British religions/non religions (of which no religion dominates) and British Muslims.

Otherwise may I remind you that in the UK `disestablishment' happened just a few years back !

John Wragg

J

  • 48.
  • At 02:30 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Greg wrote:

What nonsense. The Archbishop should be respectfully reminded how irrelevant he is to the vast majority in the UK (including the casual Christian majority) and politely told to keep his daft, attention-seeking views to himself.

The only people entitled to choose what laws apply and how they are judged, are the rich and politicians - who will continue to flaunt justice and the legal system as they have always done.

Muslims have no more right to opt for an alternative set of laws/legislation than Hindus, Jews, Gays, Teenagers, or any other self-proclaimed group.

It's a ridiculous speculation, and merely by showing our frustration and indignation we still show the Archbishop far more respect than he currently demands.

  • 49.
  • At 02:32 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Cordula von Eye wrote:

I do not think so. This morning, Danny Cox, presenter on BBC Oxford spoke to a teacher of Islam here in Oxford and the teacher made it very clear that he would leave Britain should Sharia law be introduced. Sharia law has very little to do with the Qoran and its interpretation, in fact, there is no one set standard for Sharia law in the world. He gave the example that in Saudi Arabia, Sharia law forbids women to drive whereas in Pakistan, Sharia law allows it on grounds of equality expressed by the Qoran.
It would be very sad if we had two different legal systems in this country, the birthplace of the Rule of Law!!
In fact, would there be two strands of appeal, how would the European Human Rights be applied?
We have had our legal system for an extremely long time. It should not be subject to people's religion, if we had that, Catholics might demand a different divorce law, Jehovas Witnesses a different medical law, etc. etc.
Unfortunately, the Archbishop's comments were inopportune.

This CofE cleric has uttered dangerous nonsense. Recently Australia,s PM advised his muslim community to accept their adopted country as it is or get out. What a couragious politician! UK law applies to all and has never been overridden by any religious laws. Although the bulk of indiginous Britons are not church attenders they remain Christian in their customs and attitudes. We britons have always been kind to immigrants in need,but we neither need or want imported religions.This cleric should resign or become a Muslim!

  • 51.
  • At 02:33 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Joseph Dale wrote:

I do not think the reaction is Islamophobic, more an honest concern that such an educated man in his powerful position should open up such a hornets nest. People are entitled to there own beleifs but surely must live by the law of the land they live in.

  • 52.
  • At 02:36 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

The reaction is not Islamophobic; the outcry would be the same if any religious group attempted to influence the adoption of a parallel law in this country. I consider the Archbishop's outspoken and sometimes unthinking comments do not evidence the required responsibility of his role. The transcript of the interview regarding Sharia law indicated the following:

The Archbishop’s lack of knowledge of Sharia, which he admits on more than one occasion in the interview. This should prohibit the views he expressed;

His opposition to one law for all which does not recognise the foundation of a free democratic society. Laws in this country are made by parliament which is elected by the people not by a prophet, religious figurehead or committee; and

He should appreciate that life is not an academic exercise or theoretical and views expressed by him are taken seriously. He should recognise that there are real people out there most of them attempting to live good lives. He inflames situations by his thoughtless comments which create fear. He should do his job and put more effort into supporting the United Kingdom as a truly democratic, tolerant Christian country.

  • 53.
  • At 02:40 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • naomi wrote:

What a betrayal of the very Western values that have made Britain a free, open and egalitarian society! Even assuming he's not an idiot, what he said makes little sense. He said that Jews in Britain have a Beth Din that deals with family and other matters and he's quite right. Jews take various matter to the Beth Din and it is also true that Jewish Law asks this rather than going to civil courts. BUT the Beth Din only functions voluntarily and does not override or supersede the law of the land.

If the Archbishop was (clumsily) saying that Muslim courts could function in the same voluntary way, few would argue with him. Of course, every religion has the right to worship, dress and conduct its internal affairs as it wishes so long as it does not offend the law of the land.

But he didn't say that. He said Civil Law has to accommodate to Sharia. In this charged, tense atmosphere his language was ill considered and childish at best. Such a suggestion is not only madness, but a complete betrayal of British values. No wonder so many Christians in the UK prefer the Chief Rabbi to the Archbishop.

There is no way you can unite a country and a varied population without a single system of law. It is already a scandal that the police and the judiciary turn blind eyes to honour murders and forced marriages in flagrant opposition to English Law, for fear of offending sections of the population. It is a scandal that Social Welfare pays out large sums to multiple wives in a society where polygamy is against the law.

The problem is that many Muslims are as open, law-abiding, and religiously moderate as most Jews. Sadly, there is a significant number that come from more primitive sectors of Islam and have not yet made any concessions to modernity, other than Coca-Cola. They need to be encouraged to do so, not be pandered to, because in pandering we are abetting the betrayal of moderate Islam.

  • 54.
  • At 02:45 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • J Osborne wrote:

I think the way in which the Archbishops' comments are being attacked, distorted and blown out of proportion by some of the press/media is an irresponsible disgrace.
Clearly this man is in a position of some authority and influence, and as such must take due care when offering his views on hyper-sensitive topical issues, but he is now being treated as though he has advocated terrorism and fundamental extremism.
Due to his elevated position in society, one assumes he is an intelligent and articulate man, therefore i have to doubt whether he would take such an unintelligent view on this subject, as is seemingly being levelled at him.
In my opinion the reaction is a useless example of neanderthal knee-jerkism, and a weak excuse for more nationalist propaganda, and far outweighs what it is a reaction to in terms of volatility.

  • 55.
  • At 02:46 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Charles Wilkinson wrote:

The usual educated Charlie's demonstrating their bigotry and insecurities. Like to see them shape up on the street. Democracy? What a laugh!!

  • 56.
  • At 02:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ian H wrote:

Interesting the way you place an "or" in the question. If I do not wish British culture to become more Islamic then yes in this case I am an 'islamophobe' evidently. But obviously I am happy for Islamic countries to practise their own traditions (it is tiresome that I need to insert this disclaimer). I am not phobic of Islamic traditions per se, just in my own country with its Christian heritage and traditions of secular law. Why do you seek to label people 'islamophobic' in this unhelpful way? What do you mean by islamophobic anyway? Have some at the BBC now grown tired of the knee-jerk "You RACIST!" accusation? What is so wrong with wanting to defend one's national identity? In this increasingly atomised world we need something to bind us together.

  • 57.
  • At 02:50 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Zubeda wrote:

I'm not going to give a yes or no answer as that simplifies the matter and reducing it to "which side are you on" debate.

As a Muslim, born and bred in the UK I worry when reading reader responses on the BBC website about how people perceive the issue of sharia law, when as a Muslim I can't even begin to explain what sharia law is. Can those wading in the debate even give examples of sharia law?

I wonder if some readers are even aware of their own British identity and are they frightened about another group which has perceived strong identities?

I am also worried that some of the responses reflect words to the effect of "go back to where you come from if you can't live under OUR laws."

Lastly, I just want to say that this 'debate' has NOT been prompted by Muslims publicly asking for Sharia law but from the Archbishop. Yet, reading the press you would think otherwise.

I value the spirit in which the Archbishop spoke but
I just want to say we don't want yet more spokespeople speaking on behalf of Islam. We can do that ourselves. The Archbishop should instead do more constructive work on behalf of his congregation.

  • 58.
  • At 02:50 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • rubin wrote:

I just don't understand how this kind of moral relativism can exist within the Anglican Church. I'm no Christian, and have no intention of defending the Christian faith as better than Islam, but surely this undermines the Archbishop's entire belief system.

Also, if we begin to introduce new laws for people of different beliefs where does the whole thing end?

Murder becomes fine for people who believe it to be so?

Speeding drivers given the all clear by Jeremy Clarkson?

What a load of absolute nonsense.

  • 59.
  • At 02:51 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mr Jamie Osborne wrote:

I think the way in which the Archbishops' comments are being attacked, distorted and blown out of proportion by some of the press/media is an irresponsible disgrace.
Clearly this man is in a position of some authority and influence, and as such must take due care when offering his views on hyper-sensitive topical issues, but he is now being treated as though he has advocated terrorism and fundamental extremism.
Due to his elevated position in society, one assumes he is an intelligent and articulate man, therefore i have to doubt whether he would take such an unintelligent view on this subject, as is seemingly being levelled at him.
In my opinion the reaction is a useless example of neanderthal knee-jerkism, and a weak excuse for more nationalist propaganda, and far outweighs what it is a reaction to in terms of volatility.

  • 60.
  • At 02:51 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Maria Allen wrote:

No they haven't been. But when preference is shown to a religious & political group (Islam) who's aims are to change the system of government and law (Check the Islamic Party of Great Britain's website) in this country for a medieval and barbaric system, and they are given credence then I think it is time for us, as civilized people, to worry.

I do not believe the reaactions are islamophobic;in fact I strongly support tolerance and integration and am especially sensitive to muslim people in the present circumstances, but I deeply disagree with the introduction of any different laws from the ones the country decides and I believe we should all respect the same law when we live in the same society. Freedom of living our lives according to our culture and religion should not result in disrispect for the law and our judiciary.The initiative of opening Sharia bank accounts is a brilliant idea which shows we can find ways of integrating religious needs : more ways can be found to accomadate different cultural needs, but let's respect the law of the country.
Are we not flexible enough when we are faced with the death of a newborn baby following circumcision?And leaving it all to the Sinagogue?I would prosecute the adults notwithstanding their religion.

  • 62.
  • At 02:53 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Tim Woods wrote:

Please get all religious nonsense out of legal and political affairs.

  • 63.
  • At 02:53 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Chris Nation wrote:

To expand on John Morris's comment above, I hope it turns out to be not only Islamophobic but religiophobic.

A culture has to have a rule of law that, as far as possible, excludes decisions based on what one person or body believes is true against what another person or body believes is true: i.e. the rule of law based on evidence. It's long past the time that the C of E was uncoupled from any links with the legislature and executive - and here comes Williams proposing that another religion should get in on the act!

I was in Pakistan in 1988 when Gen Zia declared Sharia. One result was the headline in The Khyber Mail, "Women Axed In TV Ads." Of course, they meant "from" TV ads but it added briefly to the gaiety of Nations, esp this one. The serious point is that Sharia law cannot be restricted, ring fenced, to a selection of aspects of life. My understanding is that it is a blueprint, a handbook, directing Muslims in every aspect of their lives. Mark Williams's proposal "Wedge, Thin End Of" and file under "shred".

  • 64.
  • At 02:54 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • marc woodland wrote:

What is he on ? Can I have some ? It clearly leads to delusional thought patterns of a higher order than those which I am use to. Remember religions are the source of much evil; responsible for many deaths and horrors than anything else.

I do not believe the reaactions are islamophobic;in fact I strongly support tolerance and integration and am especially sensitive to muslim people in the present circumstances, but I deeply disagree with the introduction of any different laws from the ones the country decides and I believe we should all respect the same law when we live in the same society. Freedom of living our lives according to our culture and religion should not result in disrispect for the law and our judiciary.The initiative of opening Sharia bank accounts is a brilliant idea which shows we can find ways of integrating religious needs : more ways can be found to accomadate different cultural needs, but let's respect the law of the country.
Are we not flexible enough when we are faced with the death of a newborn baby following circumcision?And leaving it all to the Sinagogue?I would prosecute the adults notwithstanding their religion.

  • 66.
  • At 02:55 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Baldur wrote:

No way should Sharia law be accepted. It is not fair nor reciprocated in Muslim countries for Christians.

Adopting some Sharia laws for some people will open up a whole new path of problems:
To what extent? What if a husband wants it to apply and his wife doesn´t? Further: can a non muslim person insist on his case being governed by Sharia - eg in a divorce case - on grounds of equality. How will we know if a man is a muslim or not. What if a muslim wants to be governed by the laws of the land - not Sharia. Is there a chance that a man will quickly convert to islam in order to eg facilitate a "softer" divorce - thereby depriving his wife of the protection intended for her in British laws. Who will decide if a given case falls under Sharia or British laws. AND this is only the thin end of the wedge - and once again the BRITISH people will suffer just like in matters of assylum seekers. You are "good and understanding" to others to your own detriment.
If people - any people - wish to live under Sharia laws they should go and live where it is practised.

BRERE ROWAN

Mankind as a whole is getting more clever and less wise. Principles decline along with the latter. Poor Rowan Williams is faced with “New Christianity” in black Africa and British Islaam at home, between them threatening to finish off Henry VIII’s love child, in the pincers of dogmatic observance (re-named intolerance). How smart, then, to play the Briar patch Card?
The archbishop appears to say: “Christianity must yield to Islaam” but is he, perhaps, really saying: “Rise up! Your roots are under attack!”

  • 68.
  • At 02:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Roger Simpson wrote:

I think that the Archbishop is being crafty. Saying one thing when he really means the opposite. I think he has a hidden agenda.

  • 69.
  • At 02:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Andrei Valan wrote:

Phobia means fear. Should you fear Islamic law? Yes. Shari'a is a profoundly discriminating system of laws against non-Muslims and women. Go and see how entire thousand years old Christian, Zoroastrian and Animist communities are socially, politically and economically marginalized under Shari'a laws in Middle East or North Africa. Therefore, these non-Muslim communities are continuously shrinking till disappearance. Islamic law gives birth to second class citizens as the non-Muslim predominantly white aging population will sooner or later directly experience. We have a word in my country: "Don't get drunk with fresh water." I dare to make a prediction. In 50 years time from now tolerance will be a long forgotten concept in an Islamic Britain. (I understand if this comment will not pass. The glasses are too thick).

When In Rome (Do As The Romans Do) ( a person should try to act as the people do who are from that place ... )

"Will anyone rid us of this meddling priest?"

  • 71.
  • At 02:59 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Baldur wrote:

No way should Sharia law be accepted. It is not fair nor reciprocated in Muslim countries for Christians.

Adopting some Sharia laws for some people will open up a whole new path of problems:
To what extent? What if a husband wants it to apply and his wife doesn´t? Further: can a non muslim person insist on his case being governed by Sharia - eg in a divorce case - on grounds of equality. How will we know if a man is a muslim or not. What if a muslim wants to be governed by the laws of the land - not Sharia. Is there a chance that a man will quickly convert to islam in order to eg facilitate a "softer" divorce - thereby depriving his wife of the protection intended for her in British laws. Who will decide if a given case falls under Sharia or British laws. AND this is only the thin end of the wedge - and once again the BRITISH people will suffer just like in matters of assylum seekers. You are "good and understanding" to others to your own detriment.
If people - any people - wish to live under Sharia laws they should go and live where it is practised.

  • 72.
  • At 03:01 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Aurora wrote:

Since they are living in UK, there is only one civil code that is British Civil Code. And that is enough for all since they are all happy being with a British Citizen. If they are not happy they can go to back their own country where they have their own law of Sharia...
I, personally, do not think the reaction as "Islamophobic" but that is a caution.
As one of those invisible victim of "Islamic Fondamentalist", I only can say that "It is like a cancer virus and if you do not remove in the beginning, it will invade the whole body". It is that simple...
I am sorry but there is no place for democracy in so called "Islam".

  • 73.
  • At 03:01 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ashraf Choudhury wrote:

I thought a thought that I thought I had thought but the thought that I had thought wasn’t the thought that I had thought I had thought so maybe if I had thought the thought that I thought I thought I wouldn't of thought so much…

Next time Dr Williams, think before you speak!!!

  • 74.
  • At 03:01 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • christopher hollis wrote:

I think the ABC should have thought more carefully before opening his trap.
We Brits are generaly a reasonably easy going lot, live and let live etc.
BUT try to (suggest) we may have to overthrow or change our general custom & ways to incorporate an intollerant religeon - would be a change too far in my view.

  • 75.
  • At 03:03 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • William Nation wrote:

Regardless of whether one thinks that the CofE is frankly rather sad in supporting minority interests because of its own failure to promote its core business of Christianity, you cannot have two legal systems operating in a civilsed western country.

Rather than make silly uninformed remarks, Rowan Williams would do well to go and experience Sharia Law in somewhere like Nigeria where it is alive and well in the northern part of the country and where it completely overrules the law of the land. Punishments (which follow extremely arbitrary judgements) include tieing women to a stake and beating them with a lash for having children out of wedlock and having your hand cut off for stealing a car.

Whether one thinks that a sterner form of justice might indeed be a good thing in this country, let us please stop this nonsense of allowing minority groups to do as they please and maybe start taking the same viewpoint that John Howard has recently taken in Australia, that they are a Christian country with Christian principles and where people speak in the main English, and if any muslims find this hard to take, there is nothing stopping them going back to their own lands to carry out their barbaric practices.

William Nation


  • 76.
  • At 03:04 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ashraf Choudhury wrote:

I thought a thought that I thought I had thought but the thought that I had thought wasn’t the thought that I had thought I had thought so maybe if I had thought the thought that I thought I thought I wouldn't of thought so much…

Next time Dr Williams, think before you speak!!!

  • 77.
  • At 03:06 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Tracey Petsivas wrote:

The archbishop should be ashamed of himself. Call himself a Christian, I think not. He should be promoting Christian family values not Sharia ones.

  • 78.
  • At 03:08 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • loosely Quaker wrote:

Perhaps the BBC news department should reflect on why it chooses to make certain items the lead item in the news, and on how the way these are presented help inflame issues and may, inadvertently one can only assume, encourage Islamophobia. One has only to look at message boards here and on newspapers today to see what a furore has been stoked up, most of it pretty anti-Muslim. I'm not sure exactly what the Archbishop had in mind; has he clarified his position? Has the reporting so far really shed much light on the issue? Sharia law is a highly complex field, given the different schools of Islamic jurisprudence, differences between different sects and in the legal code between different Muslim countries, different interpretations and different legal opinions on specific cases.

The BBC adopted the same sensationalist approach over the article bishop Michael Nazir Ali wrote in the Telegraph, on alleged no-go areas for non-Muslims, which the BBC picked as the lead item and seemed initially to take at face value. Only later were his views allowed to be challenged credibly and questions asked about where these "no-go areas" are, and whether this is a problem relating only to "Muslim areas" as opposed to other areas of high deprivation and poverty.

When investigating Islamic law, why not also have a look at the way Jewish law operates here. And at the eruv areas erected in Golders Green and elsewhere with the cooperation of local authorities, within which the laws of the Sabbath do not have to be followed rigorously. Or the way in which Rabbinical courts operate.

  • 79.
  • At 03:11 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Paul M. Harrison wrote:

If the late Thomas a Becket was as controversial as some modern clerics, it is no wonder that the king was annoyed!

I do not believe the reaactions are islamophobic;in fact I strongly support tolerance and integration and am especially sensitive to muslim people in the present circumstances, but I deeply disagree with the introduction of any different laws from the ones the country decides and I believe we should all respect the same law when we live in the same society. Freedom of living our lives according to our culture and religion should not result in disrispect for the law and our judiciary.The initiative of opening Sharia bank accounts is a brilliant idea which shows we can find ways of integrating religious needs : more ways can be found to accomadate different cultural needs, but let's respect the law of the country.
Are we not flexible enough when we are faced with the death of a newborn baby following circumcision?And leaving it all to the Sinagogue?I would prosecute the adults notwithstanding their religion.

  • 81.
  • At 03:23 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Dave Deacon wrote:

Liberal wishy washy rubbish! Sack him! So cowardly do they paint us that we will not stand up for our own culture. Maybe we don't deserve it. If Hitler arose to day this lot of pansies would give in before it began - to save lives and not upset the invaders...

Where will this stop? What next to 'appease' the 'new people' who keep arriving in huge numbers? Do we accommodate all of them and their needs? That surely would lead to a 'country' of factions killing each other.

We have a coherent culture grown out of thousands of years of strife and progress. It's so good that millions and millions and millions of foreigners come and benefit from the fruits of this long costly labour - in doing so they obtain rights and freedoms often not afforded to them in their country of origin. They can take part as full citizens but they cannot change it to suit themselves. To do so stops us being a nation.

That is not Xpohbic that is simply me trying to save my country and culture from being killed off. That's why we went to war against Hitler and others. Don't throw it away it's worth keeping...

  • 82.
  • At 03:24 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • John Woodcock wrote:

I wish to live in a tolerant society. I therefore sympathise with the Archbishop’s request for us to look tolerantly on an individual’s request to look towards their own beliefs in settling domestic or personal matters. I am sure he had no intention of suggesting that Shia law would override or replace British law in this country.

I trust that he realized the effect his statement would make and was prepared to say what he truly believed in the full knowledge of what the media and bigots would make of it. He also has to represent the Church of which he is head and he must be fully aware of those in its ranks who would be alarmed at such an approach. We live in a democracy and all views, especially from such an authoritative and intelligent member of our society, should be heard and debated with respect.

  • 83.
  • At 03:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • SK wrote:

For all his academic education, The Archbishop is ignorant and self pontificating. I wonder if he would be so tolerant of Sharia Law if the panel comprised only of women.

  • 84.
  • At 03:32 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ryck wrote:

Dr. Rowan Williams made a gentle suggestion towards the inhabitants of Great Britan, he should hierin be recognized.

  • 85.
  • At 03:32 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Eric wrote:

Ok fine, here is another religious guy who wants to turn our countries into religious states. More than that he is "preaching" for a breakdown of the union into groups of theocratic counties. There will counties where islamic law is predominant, ones where it anglican, ones where it is roman, ones where it is boudhism, ones where it is atheism. Yes! Then atheism has to become a religion!!!
Since we can still debate and have freedom of speech, I accept the debate, but the concept of nation even as a union implies a united set of rules. History shows that country building means that rules of law applies to all without distinction of intimate beliefs.
If the argument of that guy with pretended moral judgment is correct, there should already be an ID card to each of the citizen indicating their belief or not, so that in court or in daily life different rules could apply.
If the country has done well until now without, why should islam be some divisive? And is it really? If so, it should just be banned. If not, it should be asked to accept the laws of the UK. If you think that your religion cannot accept that kind of power sharing, then you should emigrate to Saoudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia or wherever you feel fine like many jews do to Israel every year.
By the way, if Mr Archbishop is to be considered, how should that affect the status of the queen and future king?

  • 86.
  • At 03:34 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • newsniightjunkie wrote:

I still hold to my view, as a devout Christian, that some parts of the Sharia law should be allowed, in the same way that the Jews are allowed some parts of their own law based on the Talmud.

The current Archbishop is the only one in my lifetime that is not afraid to speak out on controversial subjects, and you can believe that the words are carefully chosen

  • 87.
  • At 03:37 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Rashid Adamson wrote:

It does not surprise me to read through this comments page and see only one or two entries from people of Muslim faith. When the Archbishop made his comments, he made the same mistake as Pope Benedict XVI made in his ill-timed, unnecessary speech on the subject of Islam at university of Regensburg two years ago. Both MEN, and I capitalise the word MEN as that is what they are--not demigods’ as they would have us believe, are clearly stirring up hatred and anger towards the Islamic community.

All that has and will come from the Archbishops remarks is more and more resentment of the Muslim community. The media spin on the Archbishops statement will do nothing for the cohesion of society, which he will have been well aware of before making his remarks.

Any rational thinking person will know only too well that his comments, intentionally or not, will do nothing but increase the rise in Islamophobia.

The general populace of this country have little or no idea what Sharia law is, nor will they bother to find out. They will just watch the images portrayed in the media of people being whipped, shot, or having their hands cut off and think that is the Sharia law that is being spoken of, by the Archbishop.

In this country we are far removed from the barbaric scenes portrayed in the media, there is no call for Sharia laws by the Muslim populace, I have not read comments anywhere today by Muslims praising the archbishop for being their voice. So why even go there.

  • 88.
  • At 03:38 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • S.A Choudhary wrote:

I am surprised and bewilldered about Archbishops untimely speech. I am muslim too but I feel if Archbishop looks all Islamic countries of the World sharia laws being considered unacceptable not even accommodated in their own legal system. Only exception is Saudi Arabia and part of Nageria. Iranian do not believe what rest of the Islamic world believes, therefore their case is totally different. These laws in reality have been sloganized to befool ordinary muslims by political and religious leaders Gen Zia of Pakistan is shining example.

  • 89.
  • At 03:40 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Sheila Scott wrote:

I am so glad that not one person ias in favour of this senseless idea - the very thought!

  • 90.
  • At 03:43 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Lars Hanson wrote:

There should be a separation of church and state in any secular society. Societies have failed to do so at their peril, and at the peril of those of their citizenry who are not of the "chosen" faith.
Those who choose to live in a secular society should abide by that society's laws and not try to impose religious laws upon that society.
On the secular society's part, tolerance of religious beliefs and norms must be tolerated, but not to the extent that such religious beliefs are imposed upon the society writ large. That is the balance which should be maintained.
The U.S. anti-abortion movement crosses the line between church and state clearly in attempting to impose religious beliefs as laws by outlawing abortion. (The particular religious beliefs in question concern when a human foetus becomes an individual and whether a human foetus has a soul.)
In direct answers to your questions:
1. The archbishop was incorrect to advocate crossing the boundary between church and state in a secular society.
2. Those who oppose his statements may or may not be reacting from Islamophobia. The distinguishing factor would be the basis for their arguments.

Sharia Divorce law makes it nigh-on-impossible for a wife to split with her husband, while all the husband needs to do is utter a single word and he will never see his ex-wife again.

Women must wait months after divorce, seperation or death before they can re-marry. There is no such restriction on men.

By the standards of any modern society, Sharia law is substantially and unequivocally sexist.

  • 92.
  • At 03:48 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jeremy Wall wrote:

The Archbishop was naive to even suggest that ANY part of Sharia Law might be adopted in Britain. He should have known that there would have been an uproar and the majority of Britons would never accept it. On the contrary, anybody seeking to migrate to the UK should be prepared to accept and abide by British law as any Brit migrating to another country would naturally accept the law of that country. It's by no means Islamophobic to maintain that a Moslem who is not prepared to accept British law should not be allowed to live there, and that should be a condition of entry.

  • 93.
  • At 03:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Pat Cull wrote:

When in rome one should do as the Romans. When in the U.K. obey the laws of the U.K. If muslims wish to live here, to which I hve no objection, they should obey our laws.
Some of their own laws re brutal, and many escape to this country to escape the Islamic laws.
Think of the young girls who are forced into marriages to which they object. The young people are sufficiently mistified by the dual rulings that apply when they are taught in English schools, and then go home to families who expect them to obey Islamic rules. Is it any wonder that they suffer from depression and confusion? By all means respect the family, but in no way undertake liaisons which are against their wishes and consciences. The Archbishop is negating the Christian faith when he suggests two standards. It would cause Mayhem, and there is enough of that about already!

  • 94.
  • At 03:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jeremy Wall wrote:

The Archbishop was naive to even suggest that ANY part of Sharia Law might be adopted in Britain. He should have known that there would have been an uproar and the majority of Britons would never accept it. On the contrary, anybody seeking to migrate to the UK should be prepared to accept and abide by British law as any Brit migrating to another country would naturally accept the law of that country. It's by no means Islamophobic to maintain that a Moslem who is not prepared to accept British law should not be allowed to live there, and that should be a condition of entry.

  • 95.
  • At 03:50 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Gianni Vezzutto wrote:

It is sad, troubling even, but inevitable in 2008 that the 'Islamophobic' tag is suggested as the possible reason for holding opinions polarised from those of the Archbishop.

Debate and rational discusson on admittedly sensitive issues is now bordering on impossible.

  • 96.
  • At 03:55 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • William Johnson wrote:

I see it from a Yank perspective. My system of government is by no means perfect, but I am convinced that its notion of absolute separation of church and state is a stroke of political genius. Marriage, divorce and property rights are fundamental and inalienable to every citizen. If the state defers to any sectarian law, it fails in its responsibility to uphold the civil rights of the individual.

William Johnson
Ipswich, MA USA

  • 97.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Dave wrote:

Of course the response is not Islmophobia. A phobia is an irrational fear. The responses have been based upon rational concerns. These concerns are continually provoked by cloudy thinking liberal left people like this person or by Muslims demanding some change in our culture or ways of operating.

Each time we raise our concerns about these issues in Britain someone somewhere cries Islamophobia often as an attempt at suppressing free speech. This word has the meaningless cache now of similar overused and abused words such as racism.

  • 98.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • sanitychecker wrote:

Don't you have the answer already on the thousands of posts on HYS? Just because English people do NOT want Sharia law (for all the cogent reasons on HYS and from commentators today) does not make the English "Islamaphobic" - it just makes them PRO-ENGLISH and PRO-ENGLISH CULTURE!!! And not a moment too soon!

  • 99.
  • At 04:02 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Father Andrew Gentry wrote:

What in the name of rational thought was the archbishop thinking? Is he seriously suggesting that a legal system whose roots are in the Middle Ages and one which does not recognize secular or humanist values,not to mention English common law,should be incorporated into the British legal system! Of course this is a threat to British values...values I might add that are not dependent on the rulings of clerics and imans! The simple fact of the matter is, unless in the 21st century we insist on a separtion of religion and the body politic we are going to continue to see religious extremists of every kind seeking to use government as a way of enforcement through any and all means. We cannot have a free society if we allow any theocratic system to compel everyone to follow and honour whatever code of conduct they demand.I fear that in the seemingly typical anglican need of being all things to all people it is in grave danger of becoming nothing to everyone!

  • 100.
  • At 04:16 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • john thomas wrote:

Rowan Williams has said some daft things in his time but this must rank among the daftest. Talk about rubbing a sore, he has done more for the racist cause than he realises, and who gives him the authority to speak, the majority of people in this country are secular not Christian just look at church attendance. If the church was a business it would have been bankrupt long ago.

  • 101.
  • At 04:16 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Zubeda wrote:

I'm not going to give a yes or no answer as that simplifies the matter and reducing it to "which side are you on" debate.

As a Muslim, born and bred in the UK I worry when reading reader responses on the BBC website about how people perceive the issue of sharia law, when as a Muslim I can't even begin to explain what sharia law is. Can those wading in the debate even give examples of sharia law?

I wonder if some readers are even aware of their own British identity and are they frightened about another group which has perceived strong identities?

I am also worried that some of the responses reflect words to the effect of "go back to where you come from if you can't live under OUR laws."

Lastly, I just want to say that this 'debate' has NOT been prompted by Muslims publicly asking for Sharia law but from the Archbishop. Yet, reading the press you would think otherwise.

I value the spirit in which the Archbishop spoke but
I just want to say we don't want yet more spokespeople speaking on behalf of Islam. We can do that ourselves. The Archbishop should instead do more constructive work on behalf of his congregation.

  • 102.
  • At 04:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • creme brulee wrote:

Is Rowan Williams recruiting for the BNP..........what a gift?

  • 103.
  • At 04:21 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Frank Miles wrote:

Would a Muslim who supports the Archbishop agree that British people living in a Muslim country should be protected by British law and so, shall we say, be party to a same-sex "marriage", or purchase and drink alcohol, or even the women wear "revealing" clothes such as a mini skirt if they so desired?

  • 104.
  • At 04:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Pandora wrote:

Surely the Archbishop displays a number of serious conceptual misunderstandings underlying this subject. Or at least a failure to follow the logic?

For instance, the axiomatic belief in - or identity with - a nation state. While the Archbishop appears to recognise that this is an issue in question, does he not draw entirely the wrong conclusion?

For this and other, I would think fairly obvious, conceptual and practical reasons, sharia law is incompatible both with our democracy and with our law.

I find it difficult to see how the Archbishop can regain, and retain, his position.

This is based not on Islamophobia but, I suggest, a rather better grasp of some fundamental issues surrounding this complex subject than the Archbishop displays.

  • 105.
  • At 04:36 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • An Iranian wrote:

I suppose it is only fitting for the CE clergy to welcome Shari'a law in a nostalgic attempt to recostruct the brutal decapitation of Anne Boleyn, who gave them their raison d'etre.
While the good Archbishop is cheerleading the dawn of Shari'a in the British Isles, the good Shari'a folks are busy brutalizing a woman who had the audacity to enjoy a cup of latte with a male coleague at a Starbucks in Riyadh.
Are the British people who gave us the Magna Carta, Newton, Blake and and and.... going to allow this kind of regression? I hope and pray they don't.
While Britain may no longer be the colonial superpower it once was, it is still the nucleus of modern Western civilization. Destroy the nucleus and watch the electrons fly off in a mad frenzy.

  • 106.
  • At 04:36 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jean George wrote:

The comments are outragious, why should everyone keep having the Muslim issue in our news every day. As a practising Roman Catholics we have managed to get on with our belief and also obey the law of the country.

  • 107.
  • At 04:38 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • nick wrote:

At second hearing, I think I comprehend the Archbishop is trying to be accommodating, and non-exclusive to Muslims; possibly over-compensating in order to set an example in some 'christian' focus and value ambit. Is he either naive, foolish, ignorant of history. Such uncertain footing in the World when he represents a failing traditional, fictional, intellectual system that is only appropriate for calming children and those who fear extinction or death. ``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````

However, I am not a Christian nor a Muslim, though I am willing to accept many of their non-dogmatic behavioural treatise as to how mankind should behave, though I can't accept the source reason of why a religion should be powerful, because I believe their function is solely socio-political. I also can't comprehend why muslims come to this Country if they seek to live under 'Shariah' code. They should stay in those Countries where there is a greater chance of achieving that.

If we go to an Islamic state, we are not granted to only obey UK law. These issues always become a wedge historically, wherein only a small
change now, enables greater leverage down the years. Take the issue of British demands to the Imperial Chinese Government in the 19th Century, and the concessions they were forced to allow. It was good for the British but not for the Chinese.

The Archbishop of Canterbury should know if anyone should, "man cannot serve two Masters", in which case the 'masters' would be codes of religious and secular law. A cause of friction and aggravation if anything could be.

  • 108.
  • At 04:40 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

Religion, politics and the legal system should all, always be kept separate. It is not islamophobic to think this- it is religiophobic. But it is not even that- it is not a fear.


  • 109.
  • At 04:42 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ed Morrison wrote:


It is impossible to get inside of Dr. Williams head as to what he said versus what he meant. However, on such a religious and politically sensitive topic such as this, we should not have to. There should not be a need for senior priests to emerge and explain what Dr. Williams really meant! As the leader of a Christian Church he should not place "politcal correctness" over what is right and what is wrong.

Perhaps Dr. Williams needs to spend some time in countries which practice Islamic law, and it would serve him well to bring with him some of the female members of his flock. Then he can open his mouth!

  • 110.
  • At 04:52 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

I speak as someone who has very liberal values. But I am surprised and annoyed to have learnt the following.

"Polygamous marriages conducted by Muslims outside the UK are reported to have been given legal recognition by the British government, even allowing husbands who bring more than one wife to the country to claim welfare benefits.

The government in December last year concluded a year-long review that found recognition of polygamous marriages conducted overseas as "the best possible" option, the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported. The decision has not been publicly announced."

Why was this not given wider coverage and discussion by the media. This is absolutely ridiculous and capitulates to forces who would like to divide us as a country into those who have one set of secular laws, and those who can freely apply another due to their religion.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/02/03/nbenefit103.xml

I am glad this is being debated more widely - it needs it, because this nonsense, and it is nonsense, has got to stop before all our human rights and civil liberties are trampled over .

  • 111.
  • At 04:53 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • George wrote:

He's a silly man. If he'd said that some Muslims might like to abide by their own rules, so long as these were compatible with British law, there wouldn't be a problem.
Surely the rules of a church are on a footing with the rules of a sports club, or of a place of work. People who belong to a club or firm by and large consent to the organisation's procedures and methods of solving disputes.
But if there is a perceived injustice, then the club member can appeal to the law of the land as a higher authority. This has to apply to religious groups as well.

  • 112.
  • At 04:54 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Blondie wrote:

Declan Mcquire,I agree with you Totaly,We must not give our Land up Or our Laws,We must stay together on this one ,We are a Untited Country.And has to stay that way ,before its to late.

  • 113.
  • At 04:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • hicham wrote:

i respect all the opinions & i beleive that this man know very well what he's saying since he has experienced all the laws...he's now convinced that Islam is the truth & its laws are the solution.

  • 114.
  • At 05:00 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Dale wrote:

I think we should give it serious consideration after the Pope marries and Muslim countries with Sharia law incorporate British and Ecclesiatical law into their own constitutions. By the way whar's wrong with Islamophobia? I have a phobia about heights but am not prejudiced against ladders. Phobia means irrational fear - I see nothing irrational about fear of Sharia.

  • 115.
  • At 05:01 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Kim Hutton wrote:

Let us all Remember that this is Great Britain a christian country. If anyone feels uncomfortable living in a christian country surely they should leave and go elsewhere where they are able to feel more at home!

  • 116.
  • At 05:04 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • John wrote:

"Who will rid us of this troublesome priest?" - King Henry II of England, 1170.

  • 117.
  • At 05:08 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Carole Walker wrote:

I can hardly believe this issue is being raised now in Britain. We in Ontario (Canada) had a long drawn out debate about this. You should have learned from our unpleasant experience. It's the original can of worms and has nothing to do with Islamophobia. I'm sorry to hear that pejorative term used by the BBC. The reason the idea was rejected here was the fact that Canadian law and Sharia law are very different when it comes to womens' marital rights and property inheritance. How can you combine apples and oranges? Who would make the ultimate decision on these very sensitive issues? How do you avoid perceived insults? It's impossible...

  • 118.
  • At 05:11 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Eleanor Stevens wrote:


I was shocked and horrified when I heard his pronoucement. We are a great nation and there is only one law here and that is British Law.

He should concentrate on the Church of England. For too many years the church has put its head in the sand and failed to reach out to people in this country. There are so many things the Archbishop could be doing to modernise and promote the church especially for young people. A debate on the modernisation of the church would be great on News Night.

Thanks for allowing me to voice my opinion.

  • 119.
  • At 05:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

GRASPING THE NETTLE

Most of the comments here sadly, and predictably, show little grasp of the pragmatic realities. They are difficult, and there are powerful (socio-economic) contingencies at work which make them very hard to perceive clearly.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world because of its TFR (Total Fertility Rate). That of secular liberal democrats is negative (below 2.1), meaning that these populations are falling (masked by a temporary ageing population), hence all the immigration into Europe and the USA.

The Muslim world is anti-usury and many of the other 'human rights' (aka far-left) values which are, as I have said before, at the root of this demographic suicide (or warfare depending on how you choose to see it).

This is a pragmatic issue based on demographics and behaviour.

Nearly all of the comments posted above appear to be oblivious to this. This is a sad reflection of dysgenesis in the developed world I suggest.

If anyone wants to reverse this, it will mean abandoning some of our secular, 'liberated', ways, and adopting some of the Islamic practices (whether we call them that or not, they are also, paradoxically, Orthodox Judaic to a point). This is about in-group and out-group behaviours.

For anyone interested, this point has been made many times in this blog, over the past year. If anyone is serious about debating what the Archbishop said, they are going to have to grasp this nettle. The Muslims are right on this, we in the secular liberal-democratic world have got it wrong, and the numbers make that irrefutable.

  • 120.
  • At 05:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • mark wrote:

Rather typical of the BBC to label as "Islamophobic" the almost universal rejection of Dr Williams' suggestion. People seem to have, in fact, responded quite a rationally given the examples of so-called Islamic or Sharia Law that we see around the world.

Perhaps the real question should be is it right, in our multicultural society, to have an established church?

  • 121.
  • At 05:17 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Alex Adotevi wrote:

I find the reaction to the Archbishop's statement shocking on several levels:
1) The media have been irresponsible in the two ways: (i) they have taken the comments out of their context (ii) they have failed to explain what sharia law actually is.
(This is valid for Radio talk show hosts, tabloids and even the broadsheets)
2) The general population has a limited understanding what what sharia law is and no appreciation of the fact that the British Legal system already allows people from faiths such as the Jewish faith to submit a decison to an arbitration process guided by the Jewish Community

How many collum inches have been written about this? It seems no one wants to really understand the nuances of the debate that the Archbishop was trying to open - All we hear is people's entrenched Manichean views. Society does not make any progrees from this stort of mass hysteria!!!!

  • 122.
  • At 05:17 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • sanitychecker wrote:

(1) Has anybody looked at what Sharia law means for the women of, for example, Basra at the moment? they say they have less freedom than ever, and go in fear of their lives if they do not follow exactly the requirements of Sharia for women.
(2) What kind of message will this send out to the world, and those who rely on Britain as THE centre of sanity and freedom? (3) Is Sharia central to Islam, or not? (4)If yes, is it not the avowed purpose of Islam (governed by Sharia) to create a caliphate spanning the world, and to do this via local national "communities"? and (5)does not it contain the deathly "jihad" concept? On your programme tonight, We Should Be Told - !

  • 123.
  • At 05:19 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Vince wrote:

It is a pernicious attack on universal human rights, which enables the Church to retain its doctrine that clashes with modern thinking, such as gay rights.

  • 124.
  • At 05:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Graham Barnes wrote:

I believe this episode simply goes to show that the Church of England should be disestablished and the UK converted to a secular state as quickly as possible. Fatuous men in robes and mitres (or turbans) are simply not worthy of the attention they seem to command. It is high time the human race treated them with the contempt they deserve and moved on from the ancient superstitions they propound.

  • 125.
  • At 05:24 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Rob in Bristol wrote:

It seems to me that the Archbishop is exhibiting two of the very best Christian qualities.
1. He is listening thoughtfully to the concerns of others.
2. He is not being judgemental.
If only this was true of those who are responding so noisily.

  • 126.
  • At 05:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Vivian Evans wrote:

I have very serious doubts that the journalists who made this into a 'shock-horror'-story, and the many people who read only these stories, have taken the trouble to actually read the Archbishops whole lecture, which he gave at the Royal Courst of Justice.
Here's the link:
http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1575

It is a demanding and long lecture, so perhaps too heavy-going for our times of sound-bites and dumbing-down.

As someone has said further up here - his 'agenda' is not to have all of Britain come under Sharia law - his agenda is something totally different.

Just look at his last paragraph - and it becomes clear that the discussion ought not to be about Sharia and/or Islamophobia, but about what sort of society we live in, and what role religion in general has to play in it.

Something eminently debatable, I think.

  • 127.
  • At 05:32 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • David Nettleton wrote:

I confess to knowing more about Denis Law than Sharia Law, but when I heard of Rowan Williams' statement, I knew strightaway that he should go. Rather than drag it out over several days, I suggest an early exit this weekend, so that the Anglican Church can start afresh on Monday morning.

  • 128.
  • At 05:33 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • newsnightjunkie wrote:

Let him be allowed to speak out - he is the only Archbishop in my lifetime who does.

How many of the criticisms are from church-going christians.

  • 129.
  • At 05:38 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Piero Agostinelli wrote:

The Archibishop for sure was misunderstood, because it is not possible he suggested to accept the muslim law based on a primitive fanatism, where a mariage,known as a union of two persons,in their law, as a union of 5 persons,and the wife compelled to be shaved on her sexual parts of the body and hooded like a phantom,not to eat pork meat,to use the right hand,in absolute,without a fork,because the left hand is used exclusively at the W.C.where hygenic paper is not allowed.I lived for four years with a Pakistany lady doctor.

  • 130.
  • At 05:39 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • David Rose wrote:

In 2001 over 390,000 people put Jedi Knight as their religion - so what about using the Jedi code for us? There is a serious point here... of the dozen or more Muslims I know most are Muslim in name rather than practise - and none want Sharia law. There may be over 2-million people who call themselves Muslim but that is as meaningless as the millions who call themselves CofE and never attend church.

I think the Bishop needs to re-think the whole thing and start doing his proper job - the Mimistry of Jesus Christ.

  • 131.
  • At 05:40 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Dave wrote:

"At 04:52 Bedd Gelert quotes the Telegraph: "Polygamous marriages conducted by Muslims outside the UK are reported to have been given legal recognition by the British government, even allowing husbands who bring more than one wife to the country to claim welfare benefits.

The decision has not been publicly announced."

Even Burnham the Minister for Culture and therefore a senior member of the Government on Question Time last night had never heard of this when it was raised by an audience member.

It makes me wonder what other deals with Muslim bodies this secretive Government is doing behind our backs and deliberating not announcing them. Surely isn't this an important topic for Newsnight to investigate?

  • 132.
  • At 05:41 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • An Iranian wrote:

Reply to Adrienne. Yes, the Muslims are against usury, but they sure have found a way to get around that. Instead of charging interest, Islamic banks take fixed "equity" interests in the borrowers personal equity which are convulutedly devised not to be a function of the "going concern" concept of the business. The "equity" interests are draconian. The concept of usury has been used historically as a disguised anti-semitic slur going back to the Bard's Merchant of Venice. Even Ezra Pound put it in poetry in his Pisa Cantos while using his voice to sing the praises of that sweet teddy bear,Il Duce.
Insofar as your quaint use of acronyms to add validity to your argument, allow me to inform you that frogs also have a very high TFR. So, de let us accept the legal system of frogs.

  • 133.
  • At 05:45 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Roger Brunskill wrote:

The Archbishop a "useful idiot" provides another step towards an Islamic UK. Looked at from another angle he obviously does nt agree with womens' rights.

  • 134.
  • At 05:45 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mary Fallon wrote:

I know Rowan Williams to be a deeply thoughtful and humane man. He is profoundly aware of the differing faith styles that exist in the world. His comments were very carefully chosen and showed a deep respect for the Muslims living in this country and the Islamophobia that has been exacted on citizens who have lived for sometimes three generations in this country as British members that have made them feel unwelcome in their own homes and local communities. In my view, the more we learn about the truth of Islam and Sharia law, without all the terrible stories that abound in the red tops, the more we can make comment that is fair. Then we can move on as we have with many over the centuries who support our way of life in all its historical richness, liberality and loving acceptance to follow their different faiths peacefully. Jews from war torn Europe, Roman Catholics from Ireland and now Poland, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists from all over the world. The only thing we should question is when we see the freedom of any human being being taken away, be they women, people who are elderly and disabled, people who wish to choose their own sexuality preference, etc. As Ken Livingstone years ago said, we should sit down with the IRA to try to come to some agreement for the sake of Peace. He was pilloried in the same red tops and even some heavies, as the misjudged Rowan has had to put up with, so it came to pass that John Major conducted secret talks, and today we see a new Northern Ireland and a better understanding of those things which separated the nations views.
My advice to those crying out 'Foul'is this; listen carefully to what he really said, fully, and do not present your prejudiced opinions of what he said as fact.

  • 135.
  • At 05:47 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Nancy Courtenay wrote:

Forget name calling, this is a debate.
The rule of law to be fair and to deliver any kind of justice, is based
on equality before the law. Sharia
law does not qualify as males are
priviledged and females have few if any choices-what to wear, who to marry, even to be a Muslim. Parties
to judgements are not merely unequal,
women face threats of violence,
rape and death to get compliance. You
do not need to go to a Muslim country
to see the horrors inflicted, you need to work in an Islamic community
right here. To throw Muslim women to
the lions, I feel, is not Christian.
Sharia law is, in addition, understood to mean vastly different
things to different sects and genders
etc. Much of the violence and
dysfunctional mayhem in so many Islamic countries stems from violent
disagreement so if you brought Sharia
here, it would be only the start of
the further fracture of the UK.
Williams has been talking to Muslim men, he needs to learn from
women what it is like to live under
Sharia law.
We have values, institutions, courts etc etc that represent not
only hundreds of years of learning
the hard way but give us some peace
and ,when men like this speak with
more thought, tranquility. Why can
we not spend time understanding WHY
things more or less work and why in
Islamic countries they don't. You
cannot declare war on women and
achieve justice.

  • 136.
  • At 05:47 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Lee Roy Sanders, Jr. wrote:

Laws, when they protect the human rights of a individual, being benevolent to all, then they may well be justified. But for what I see of many laws is oppression, loss of freedom and defamation of human maturity.

Sharia law no. Don't add on any additional laws and please begin resending many other unjust laws that already exist.

There is a quote on a insulated beverage holder that might sum up the abuse of our freedom of ownership and our freedom of conduct. It reads: "Do it today, tomorrow it might be illegal."

  • 137.
  • At 05:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Stitt wrote:

I have a great deal of respect for the Archbishop and realise he is presiding over the Anglican church during an extremely difficult period but he is way off the mark with his recent comments.

Sharia means different things to different sects within Islam and generally, I believe, would represent an abuse of the human rights of Muslim women if it is allowed to creep into civil legitimacy.

The best aspects of Islam are wonderful but, like my own faith Catholicism, the worst aspects are simply hideous and an affront to human dignity.

  • 138.
  • At 06:01 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ben Cunningham, ThD wrote:

The Archbishop is wrong from ANY angle. The two systems of government can never co-exist in one society. However, it has already been introduced in Britain by stealth. The introduction of Islamic banking under Shariah law is already in existence. As well, some banks in this land have opened new Islamic programs for purchase of property with paying interest. The only aspect of the issue at hand is not the introduction of Sharia, but giving it a more free hand to establish a new system of government in Britain. This is an objective of Islam, as described in many books published and sold in this land. There are already two sets of laws in Britain...one for Islam and one for everyone else.

  • 139.
  • At 06:03 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Roy wrote:

You are all getting hysterical about an entirely reasoned discussion. Are you incapable of seeing the immense contribution that Islam has made to world culture, education, and thought over many centuries? What you are doing is fuelling anti-muslim sentiment in ways that are deeply damaging to the plurality of our society and our British values of fairness and respect. For goodness sake cool it and understand that we all have much to learn from each other.


DEAR SIR/MADAM
AS ISLAM IS THE FASTEST GROWING RELIGION ALONG WITH THE FASTEST GROWING TERRORISM ACTATIVE INVOLVING THEM.

PRAGMATIC STATEMENT BY HEAD OF CHRISINITY WILL ONLY PROVIDE UN NESSECCARY PUBLICITY TO THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY WHICH COULD BACKFIRE ON THE COMMUNITIES INVOLVED.

BEING A MUSLIM IN MY OPINION THERE SHOULD BE A LEGAL SYSTEM WHICH SHOULD NOT EFFEND THE HOST COMMUNITY WHICH HAVE THE BEST DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM IN THE WHOLE WORLD.

KINDEST REGARDS
RIAZ DOOLEY

  • 141.
  • At 06:08 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • ivan salvesen wrote:

English Law should be the only Law in this Country.

  • 142.
  • At 06:15 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Sue Smith wrote:

No1 The response is not Islamophobic,
it is democratic to be able toy voice opinions. The Archbishop is supposed to be an "intellectual", his comments only prove he has no common sense!
Introduction of some other type of jurisprudence would lead to more discord and strife. It would also lead to more vociferous calls for the full Sharia Law to apply.
The DANGER is some people being above or apart from the law. It is already offensive that our Government choses to subsidise polygamy & hand out £10,000 a year to men claiming for FOUR wives!
There should ONLY be ONE law for everyone, and anyone who doesn't like that should chose to live elsewhere!
Different laws will do nothing for social cohension

If it isn't loss of faith in our political leaders it is the complete loss of credibility with the leadership of the Anglican Church.
These odd bods have completely garbled the message of Jesus Christ and it is no wonder that congregation numbers are falling.
The Archbishop needs to stop theorizing and get with some action.
Sharia Law has no place in our western civilization's code of religious law or ethics.

  • 144.
  • At 06:17 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Bob Davis wrote:

What a bumbling fool!!!!!!!

Just resign, no one will take any notice of him now.

As we who travel the world and those who
settle in other countries do so will the knowledge that they are subject to their laws.

  • 145.
  • At 06:22 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Andy Waters wrote:

I'm really getting sick of this. I am a Christian, and this is a Christian-based culture. Over the centuries we have welcomed countless people from numerous different cultures, but never have we been expected to change our ways of life or legal system for them.

You cannot have different legal systems applying to different people within the same society. Unless, of course, you want that society to fall apart. To be honest, I'm not even sure that all that many Muslims want Sharia law. But for those that do, tough - there are plenty of places to live in the world that do operate that system. Why is it that such a fuss never seems to be made by, for example, Buddhists, Sikhs or Hindus? Islam is an important faith, and I certainly have respect for it, but the proportion of the UK popultion which belongs to it is tiny.

As for the Archbishop, it is part of the Christian faith to preach tolerance and peace. But he should spend more time guiding the Christian flock of this country, which is his main role, and leave the leaders of other faiths to speak for themselves in matters such as this.

QUASI ECUMENISM

Question: has any Christian religion ever deferred to another in the interest of the greater good of mankind as a whole? Let’s not be naïve; is not Rowan Williams’ prime concern the continuance of the Church of England? Now ask again: why did he say what he said?

  • 147.
  • At 06:23 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mat Charles wrote:

The Archbish has certainly stirred some controversy here.

However, the gravest threat facing the church today is - believe it or not - the wholescale vandalism of thousands of Anglican church buildings as thieves nick the lead off rooves in increasingly huge quantities. A consequence of exploding global metal prices, apparently.

I find it interesting that Rowan Willians can pronounce of matters which he has no control over but when it comes to a more prosaic, but hugely important, issue affecting the actual physical infrastructure of the C of E, he has no comment.

In fact, when asked by a regional tv programme recently about the issue of church lead thefts, he said he didn't know anything about it.

Skewed priorities or what ? Is the Archbishop's huge intellect just too high powered to be concerned by such trivialities as the wholescale plundering of his churches? The guy's away with the fairies.

  • 148.
  • At 06:25 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • angus gillon wrote:


hi if you want to live in the country obey its laws or dont bother comming into the country

  • 149.
  • At 06:29 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Catherine S. wrote:

http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/debates/divorce.html

The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to raise the question - it needs a debate in which the wider Muslim community have a chance to be engaged in debate with their own leaders about whether they really want to be subject to laws where they risk having their hands cut off. Do these leaders really represent the views of Muslim citizens of this country?

For example in C4's documentary this week 'Divorce Sharia Style' Senior Judge and Secretary of the Sharia Council, (based at the Regent Park Mosque) Sheikh Hassan, says: ‘We know that if Sharia laws are implemented then you can change this country into a haven of peace. Because once a thief’s hand is cut off, nobody is going to steal. If only once an adulterer is stoned, nobody is going to commit this crime at all. There would be no rapist[s] at all. This is why we say that, yes, we want to offer it to the British society. … And if they don’t accept it, they would need more and more prisons.'

Is the Archbishop of Canterbury 'flying a kite' to get the debate going in Muslim communities and to enable other voices to be heard?

  • 150.
  • At 06:30 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Malcolm Wells wrote:

I believe that we should accept genuine immigrants/asylum seekers into our country.
It is, however, not racist or "Islamophobic" to expect these immigrants/asylum seekers to accept our laws, customs, traditions and heritage. After all we did not chose them, they chose us.
Britain and the British are noted for the freedoms we have and bestow on our citizens. With these freedoms comes responsibilities.
If these immigrants/asylum seekers do not like our way of life they have that other great freedom, the freedom to leave.

  • 151.
  • At 06:33 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • sanitychecker wrote:

What do the British troops in Afghanistan think about the Archbishop of Canterbury's wish to adopt and include even any part of Sharia into the British/English law system?

  • 152.
  • At 06:39 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • david charles wrote:

When in Rome do as the Romans do !!

  • 153.
  • At 06:41 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • L.S.Kamara wrote:

I pray the African leaders will work fast to combat the situation in Kenya!
I wonder why they have to wait for so long! dont you see the people dieing? Kenya is fast moving to a first class genocide country if prompt action is not taken.
Why cant African leaders tell kebaki to step down and another election is conducted?
For the sake of my African brothers and sisters I pray that you do something now to save souls.
Kenyans, remember there is no place like home. Dialogue-dialogue is the only answer.

  • 154.
  • At 06:46 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jenny wrote:

Do they reflect fear of Islam? Of course. You bet. Totally rationally. The mullahs would have me stoned to death in an instant. And the eminence given the story brings more members to Moslem groups and binds existing members stronger.

Might one suggest that Newsnight gives slightly grossly excessive coverage to Islam? It seems to average about twice a week recently. Rationally, would perhaps one story every six months not be fair in the sole BBC programme charged with intelligent coverage of all domestic and international news and current affairs?

  • 155.
  • At 06:55 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Inspector Clouseau wrote:

The Archbishop has given a gift to anyone with anti-Islamic views. And he has given newspaper columnists and media in general sufficient material for many days.

What exactly he was referring to might be clarified on tonight's Newsnight programme.

Some Britons when they read of, or are affected by, a horrific murder might wish that the murderer could be beheaded; and some who become victim of a violent robbery might think it a good idea if the thief's hand was cut off as punishment. In other words - to spell it out - the Sharia law could be something that those who clamour for capital punishment (apparently a majority in this country) might welcome if they opened up their minds.

But it's assumed that those punishments weren't what the Archbishop was proposing.

It's strange that the head of our Christian church should be in favour of implementing in Britain the laws of another religion. We need to know more about what he has in mind before rushing into a judgement.

In general my own view is that it's better if the law of the land is secular and that the same law applies to everyone no matter what their
religion.

  • 156.
  • At 07:11 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • robin piper wrote:

I have just read the book Towards the Light by A. C. Grayling about the eternal struggle for liberty and freedom of thought and low and behold the Archbishop of Canterbury suggest we turn the clock back over 1400 years. Is he mad? Is is so out of touch with our secular society? Clearly he has no understanding or insight by these myopic remarks. He should take a cold bath and a stiff whisky and go to bed for a couple of hundred years.

  • 157.
  • At 07:26 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Dj Krogol wrote:

We've discovered here in the US that they seem to want a law for themselves and NO law for anyone else. This from a religion of peace? Seems they're hell-bent on charging back to the 7th century...

  • 158.
  • At 07:29 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • connor wrote:

Islam is an ideology not a race, an ideology that most people in the west disagree with, so yes it is islamophobia and for all the right reasons. I have friends from many different cultures and backgrounds, but I love the secular one we live in and don't feel comfortable with the drastic Sharia acceptance that could occur further down the line with things such as corporal punishment and the treatment of women. I am aware that this is not what Dr Rowan Williams is proposing, but every heroin addict started off on cannabis (I will assume that you got the analogy)

  • 159.
  • At 07:33 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ken Case wrote:

British law, as American law, has become such a hotch-potch of draconian legislation which is antithetic to the very concept of liberty, let alone the practice. The incorporation of certain aspects of another legal system which, if modified in the crafting of the legislation, may be of large social benefit, a concept totally foreign to the thought processes of Parliament and Congress alike. Did the Archbishop advocate the replacement of Crown authority with that an Islamic council of some sort? No. Did he, essentially, say that British law regarding marriage and property could benefit from the incorporation of certain aspects of Sharia law? Yes. Had he kept Sharia out of the presentation, citing a hypothetical change to a system which is reeling from the adverse effects of 'chains and shackles, Si! Fairness and liberty, No!'; he probably would have been lauded as a friend to the people; the downside of that perception is this, a friend to the people is an enemy of the State. How do the Crown and Parliament see him today? Do they see him as a mispoken person of good will, or as an enemy of the State? How do the people see him? As a misspoken person of good will, or as an enemy of the State? The British people of today have no more say in affairs regarding their persons, property or papers than have the American, and to speak out in defense of any idea or change which could, would or should improve the lot of the people who are mulcted of their substance risks a late night flight to Guantanamo. Is the Archbishop still there?

  • 160.
  • At 07:37 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ivan Drake wrote:

I think that the Archbishop was being deliberately provocative just for the sake of it. He has not been in the news for some time and was frightened of being forgotten and overlooked. As for the Anglian priests remarking that he was only referring to marriages etc; was a rather pathetic excuse for his ridiculous outburst.We should ignore these ramblings of a has been.

  • 161.
  • At 07:47 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

In a civilised society, you accept and abide by the laws of the country in which you live. If you do not like them, you are free to move elsewhere. What you may not do is move to a different system and then seek to change it to suit your own needs.

Objecting to the Archbishop's proposals is in no way Islamaphobic. It is simply a statement of the obvious. Whether through immigration or by accident of birth, you live in the UK and you will abide by the law of the land. If you want to live under a different system, go elsewhere.

  • 162.
  • At 07:55 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Gordon Lorimer wrote:

The straight answer is NO. You cannot splint one part of Sharia law for the whole. You cannot have one group outside of English law for whatever reason. I know that Scotland has its own laws and some groups will hold that as an example in favour of Sharia law, but ALL Scotland is subject to one law. That idea should apply all over Britain. A cynic would say that it would be the thin end of wedge if it did happen, but that wedge is already here.

  • 163.
  • At 07:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Terry Browning wrote:

Religious laws are - by definition - socially divisive, but sharia laws are intentionally malicious.
Muslims may bleat and cry about supposed "islamophobia", but are they being beheaded for rejecting local laws and norms? Muslims do precisely that to gays and apostates under sharia.
Hypocrisy, thy name is islam.

If muslims were willing to civilise islam, I wouldn't mind, but killing people for differences of religion is evil. Uncivilised religion has no right to exist. Anywhere.

  • 164.
  • At 08:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Geoff Heald wrote:

The Archbishop's suggestion about sharia law provides more than sufficient reason if more were needed to rid the House of Lords of all the bishops.

All religions are just organised superstitions and merit no more deference than belief in fairies.
They are not the arbiters of morality but are misguided fools blind to reason and the overwhelming evidence contradicting their belief systems.

There is no place for superstitious religious nonsense in the the framing of our laws and this prelate demonstrates the depths of lunacy they are capable of.

  • 165.
  • At 08:26 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

#175 Terry Browning.

You are absolutely right about religious laws generally although I have reservations about your specific comments regarding Islam, not least because sharia law is not universally accecpted and observered in the Islamic world.

I prefer to argue that religion is a personal matter and that individuals and families may pursue their chosen beliefs in private, but the law is a secular matter. In multi-cultural and multi-racial societies, the sooner we learn to separate matters of law from questions of faith, the better off we will be.

  • 166.
  • At 08:30 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Deb wrote:

where does it all end??? our boundaries are blurring... we are in england, please lets keep it essentially english....we have an immigration problem here for a variety of reasons, one being because our systems are envied.... why change it?

  • 167.
  • At 08:39 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Emeka wrote:

Nobody forced them,muslims,to come to Britain,if they decide to come to Britain,they should also be able to accep the laws and way of life in Britain.in my opinion, the archbishops comment is absurd.

  • 168.
  • At 08:40 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

#177 Geoff Heald.

'organised superstitions', ' misguided fools blind to reason', 'superstitious religious nonsense', 'depths of lunacy'.

Geoff, I share your view of religious faith but refuse to be associated with the language. My view is quite simply that we need to separate the two. If the Archbishop has achieved anything, it is to emphasise the imperative of disestablishment and the creation of a secular state.

  • 169.
  • At 08:52 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • John Hatchard wrote:

The Jews have their religious court and have for a long time. They are not enshrined in English law although decisions made regarding such matters as divorce have to be confirmed via normal English law.
I understand that the Moslems have their religious courts so why should they be treated any differently? There is no need so why has the Archbishop raised the matter.
Are the Muslims in the UK a more significant section of the population than the Pakistanis, the Indians or the Jamaicans? I don't think so.
The leaders of the Muslim community in the UK are altogether too noisy about their rights or alledged lack of them. If they want Sharia law why don't they go and live in a country that has them.
Which poses the question why, if they are true believers, have they come to live in a land peopled by infidels, people whose customs and public behaviours must be totally abhorrent to them. Or are they all just plain old opportunists content to suck life, like leeches, from the benevolent and generally good natured British social systems. By any standards they have a better life and more freedom than in the countries many of them have left. They should quit moaning while they are ahead or go back home and do likewise.
And the Archbishop should think more carefully about this matter.

  • 170.
  • At 08:58 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Anthony Martin wrote:

What I find depressing is that so much hoo-hah is being produced from what this third rate philosopher has spouted about a bunch of ideas that are essentially superstious nonsense. How can so much news be generated from what basically boils down to a bunch of people who believe in unseen, supernatural being(s) that control every aspect of everything but at the same time don't because, like, we have free will but you better do as he says (sorry, what his self-appointed spokesmen proclaim that he says) or you'll be "separated from god for eternity if you're on the liberal end of the religion stick, or eating molten sand for eternity if you're on the other, rather hateful end.

  • 171.
  • At 09:11 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • anne wrote:

If you choose to live in a country then you abide by the laws of that country.It's that simple.

  • 172.
  • At 09:33 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Rashed Akhtar wrote:

I would like all commentators to reflect on the following: Firstly, the Archbishop is a man of intelligence, foresight, humility and devotion. Is he not entitled to his view in a secular democracy without being pilloried from all sides? Or is this freedom valid when mocking the Prophet Muhammad, but to be opposed when appearing to promote the right of Muslims?
Secondly, if Jews already enjoy arbitration in their own courts in civil matters - why can Muslims not enjoy the same privilege?
Thirdly, if Muslim individuals voluntary consent to judgement by Shariah law, without infringing on the rights of others - why should anybody else care?
Fourthly, the legal system has already integrated Shariah requirements for business transactions and finance - why is it so outrageous that this be extended into civil arbitration in family law?
Fifthly, the vast majority of Muslims have lived happily under British law for decades, while trying to make their day-to-day lives more compliant with Islam in a gradual and integrated manner - why should their loyalty be questioned because an outsider has suggested that some parts of their law deserve greater recognition?
Sixthly, the application of Shariah law, just like the application of secular or other law, can be unjust and unfair - but is not an inherent quality of it. The Archbishop has himself recognised that in its time - Shariah law set the benchmark for women's rights. If the application of Shariah law is so detrimental to women - is that due to the enforcement of the law or the law itself?

  • 173.
  • At 09:36 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • carlos wrote:

I support the archbishop's comments.
Surely he is just encouraging debate and discussion.
We do need hold a mass-debate when it comes to Muslim sensitivities and needs in western society and their desire for Sharia law in local communities.
We should mass-debate the issues in Burnley, Bolton, Rochdale, Bury, Nelson, Oldham ECT.
The people of Bradford could come together and hold mass-debate sessions involving all the local clergy and community leaders.
Only through debate can we come to terms with the issues faced in modern multicultural Britain and finally learn to love, cherish and laugh at each other inadequacies.

  • 174.
  • At 09:37 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Tom wrote:

The responses to this article have shown that Islamophobia is really just another expression of the classical racism and xenophobia. White anglo-saxon Christians have, clearly, yet to recognise that because someone prays or looks different, they are not somehow less British. Muslims, even those with brown or black skin, are just as British as anyone else. And while Jews, another minority, have had the beth din for centuries, Muslims are now finding the voice to request that same level of religious autonomy. Frankly, where it not for the bigotry, and inherent racism, this would not be that big a deal.

  • 175.
  • At 09:39 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Derek wrote:

If you want to live in Britain, then you need to live by British laws! There shouldn't be any special treatment for anyone. Our culture is what we're used to and outsiders need to respect our culture and fit in, or go elsewhere.

It points out two things about our society.

1. Even the Archbishop does not understand how the Shariah Law works.

2. We would not accept anything to do with Islam even if it was beneficial.

  • 177.
  • At 09:47 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Singleton wrote:

If I didn't know who he was I would have been convinced that it mast have been made by an absolute Idiot !!Even if he was thinking only about marriage and inheritance etc laws doesn't he know that a Muslim women can not get divorced and cant inherit etc... Should our Muslim citizens leave by laws of stone age man? You would think that before migrating to a country you would inquire abbot they laws and if you didn't like they systems would stay were you are !
Quite bluntly IDIOTIC

  • 178.
  • At 09:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jenny wrote:

Having now studied the entirety of the Archbishop's speech at the Courts of Justice, in the version on his own website, my opinion of him is worse. It is obvious he used the controversy that his mentions of Sharia would certainly bring to cover his main thrust, which is to denigrate concepts of universal equal, secular legal rights in favour of special allowance being made for religions. In other words, in the UK context, he stirred anti-Islamic sentiment in largely promoting freedom for Christian prejudices.

He makes quite clear that Christian desires to continue to persecute their traditional bêtes noires, homosexuals, as threatened by recent legislation, especially the pressure on Roman Catholic adoption agencies, has been his prompt. One cannot but imagine that preventing further advancement of women in his church's structure, separating it further from Rome and it's African mutant offspring is another.

At the core of the very densely worded, and verbose, argument are several false, or at best ignorant assertions, which make me wonder if he is nothing more than an over-promoted vicar prancing dangerously on a world stage. But perhaps one should assume he acts from knowledge.

He asserts that the ideal of universal equality before the law is based upon Christianity, when obviously it is far older (Buddhism, for example), and Christianity has often been totally opposed, causing the cruel deaths of many of their victims. He smears that equality led to the massacres of the French revolution and Mao's China. He make out that religions merely wish space for their own members when it is a long and continuing tradition of most Abrahamic religions to demand, because they say they have a direct line to the all-powerful, single god (other traditions believing in either multiple gods or none), that all around them obey their rules: anti-abortion pressure, restricted Sunday opening, lesbians and gays not allowed equal marriage, compulsory acts of worship in state schools. Need one list more? The man is mendaciously disgraceful.

  • 179.
  • At 09:50 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mike Whatmore wrote:

Just to reinforce the very first comment also from Ontario...we prevented our provincial government from doing this, thanks to a campaign led by the moderate /modernist part of our Moslem community and in its retreat the government removed the pre existing Jewish marital courts.

  • 180.
  • At 09:53 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • gloriahelenamallorca kremer wrote:

I believe he is being realistic to what is happennng today in Britain...
Moslem living abroad or inEngland and or thorugh europe..it is a way to
protect also british culture and anglican ways and laws..it is a way
of refrain ofputting a detente to others ways or cultures in a way
they would haveto resolve theri iusses intheri own way and laws
specially delicate matters as marriage and property rites it will
act as a religious way allmost like
the Catholics way with the Vatican and the anullment procedures..and viceversa where for example the
Catholic Annullment will not accept
a procedure of anullment if the
civil divorce had not taken place
before seal and with previous councell and taping and records
and with a meeting of possible
reconciliation ...and atthe same time they have their ways of also accepting the property rights before
the anullment..and viceversa they
also have their regulations sin Canon Laws concernng the abandonement
of a wife and so many laws that initimately relate and serve as evidence under the civil Law..
for example under Catholic tradition a owman that tjhrow her husband away has eventually lost all her vow and rights as a wife before the eyes of God/unless otherwise prooven and
so on..they have judicial cannon
laws as well and it continues..I think in a way its good because he is putting a borderline/and a stop...to protect english laws too
and their culture andto sort of purify the concept..fo coruse it should be open to all religions
that live there...by the same concept

  • 181.
  • At 09:55 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jo-An M. Partridge wrote:

Allegedly, Dr Rowan Williams said the UK had to "face up to the fact" some citizens did not relate to the UK legal system."

TOUGH, wherever you choose to live you abide by the Law of that country, and you have the freedom to practice your religion, if the country of choice is a member State of the United Nations.

Hells Granny

  • 182.
  • At 09:59 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Hugh wrote:

The truth of the matter is that the proof is in the pudding. Muslim people have a wonderful tradition of making peace and providing stability to all nations in it's past laws.

The muslim religion even believes in that mary was impregnated by the holy spirit and that he was a profit, now what could be more diplomatic than that and who could have been more peaceful, more diplomatic and ahead of their time than the moguls in India.

The myth is that religous laws are designed to prevent people from doing things and make them unhappy when in fact they were designed to do exactly the opposite.

I met the most happy person I have seen in ages the other day and he wasn't a synical backbiting journalist but a Born Again Christian and he made me feel that I could also be happy every day of my life, as happy as him if I preyed for my own salvation and let Jesus into my heart, now my instinct was that I truly believed him for one second and I almost cried afterwards simply becuase I wanted to be that carefree and happy and positive, it was like a feeling of a lost childhood. I knew I could never be brave enough to give up all my predudice against born again Christians and my life experience but just for that second I felt the "holy spirit", even if it was just generated by the tones in his voice and the radient, simple and honest offer of friendship, and it was at that point I knew I did need a God and a religion, though perhaps mine is my passion for teaching and all the beaurocracy that get's in the way of me helping my pupils is what I see as satan and I think everyone some sort of childish belief in something to be happy. If its the lord or allah, artistic perfection, striving for scientific truth.

A long time ago I think I was touched by God and I've never forgotten it he's the one love I've never forgotten.

  • 183.
  • At 10:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ann Burgess wrote:

What the archbishop has done is begun the debate. It's happened so many times before. Someone starts a furore by suggesting the unthinkable; the debate starts and liberals start to think it through and come round to the suggested point of view.

Then the media gets on the bandwagon and tiny step by tiny step we get to a place where people who disagree become the enemy and laws get passed. It has happened time and time again in this country. We end up with twisted thinking and perverted values which go against everything that has made this country great in the past.

We may not be phobic towards Moslems but we would do well to be phobic towards Shariah law. It is an evil we must fight against. I have been warning this would happen for years now. KEEP UP THE OUTRAGE, BRITAIN!

  • 184.
  • At 10:59 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Phillip C wrote:

Dear Newsnight,

I don't care what is good or bad in Sharia law. This is not the issue...

As far as I am concerned The Archbishop of Canterbury should be expelled from office, and dis-owned from the Christian Church as a heritic. This should be done publicly by the Queen, who is head of My Church.

I also call on the BBC to stop giving a voice to proponents of radical Muslim agendas.

Thank you for your time.

  • 185.
  • At 10:59 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Kendall wrote:

Surely the Jewish community are free to use rabinical courts to settle family matters. What is the difference of muslims using sharia law for the same ends?

  • 186.
  • At 11:01 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Claire Lloyd wrote:

Shame on Jeremy Paxman for hosting an unbalanced debate and not letting people speak where they didn't accord with his personal views. Very bad and rude chairing and sloppy partisan journalism. I quite agree with commentators who say that the BBC has misrepresented Rowan Williams' comments in the most shallow, reductionist way. This has not just been on Newsnight but most BBC news bulletins through the day...

  • 187.
  • At 11:01 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Anna-K wrote:

Unbelieveable....... just been watching newsnight I am a pretty rounded young and open individual and I can't believe the totally rediculasness of this particular newstory. if you really took that speach from the arch bishop as anti sharia then its about time you dropped all your pride and pompus beliefs clearly he was just trying to open the option to Great Britian that whoever you are and whatever you believe in we all have to live together so let's get on with it and have some sort of common ground. Great Britian isn't just for the British get on with it and grow up.

Is it possible that Williams raised the issue to spark a debate about muslim doctrine been too dominant in British society?
I know it sounds cynical but perhaps he is trying to raise the issue as muslims continue to push for more and more rights while the Catholic religion is falling in numbers.

  • 189.
  • At 11:02 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • sued wrote:

We live in a secular state and tolerance is one of our greatest espoused shared values (and although we struggle to live up to it, it remains an excellent value to aspire to). The Archbishop of Westminster is therefore welcome to share whatever he thinks with the rest of us - and it has inspired the most thorough debate I have heard on anything for many years.

That said, I am an Atheist and while I tolerate as best I can the views of all those who follow a religion, I can see no valid reason why ANY religion should have ANY say in our legal system. Our legal system needs to be fair to ALL of us and treat us EQUALLY, regardless of religion, race, age, gender etc etc. Why should the religious "club" one chooses to belong to mark one out for "special" teatment of any kind? The one thing we have in common is that we are all human beings and we all live here and we all need to be treated equally under the law. Anything else is divisive.

I was recently married in a Humanist ceremony, which (Like a Muslim ceremony) is not recognised by the state in England (although it is in Scotland) and therefore we had the briefest of state ceremonies in advance of our wedding. I can see no good reason why - in a secular state - some religious groups should be absolved from this necessity. My view is that we should remove any special privileges from religious groups, including marriage ceremonies. Further, we should move the debate on to dis-establishment of the Church of England. There is no good reason I can see for a small religious club to have ANY SAY WHATSOEVER in our government and legal process.
Very best wishes to all of my fellow human beings, Sue xx

  • 190.
  • At 11:05 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • George Edwards wrote:

Tariq Ramadan seems a very dangerous man, and perhaps he would be happier living in saudi arabia. We KNOW that if one gives Islam an INCH on this matter, they will steal a mile. Mr Ramadan clearly does not understand Islam as it functions, as opposed to it's theoreticls . Well, we do understand how it functions. Islam has spent centuries showing us EXACTLY how it works. We are not stupid or blind

  • 191.
  • At 11:05 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Neil Nimmo wrote:

Religion should never, in this day and age, be connected to any aspect of national government.

  • 192.
  • At 11:06 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • K.Ferrero wrote:

I am disgusted at the way the press has manipulated the words of one of the few Renaissance Men present in the UK.
What IS this British Culture you are all trying to preserve? Binge drinking, adultery and the pursuit of money?
You know something? If you keep telling us that we are all sleeping extremist terrorists, we might actually start believing it. THAT'S when you should start getting worried.

i believe this debate has stirred up islomophobia and pakistani/arab terrerists hatred towards this decent country and its tridition of equality, fairness, law and order and liberty.

the british law is fair and just to everyone and there is no need for any islamic shaira law to be practiced in this country.

thank you

  • 194.
  • At 11:07 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Gobhicks wrote:

Sharia?

Separation of church and state

- end of

which isn't to say that our undestanding of church and of state doesn't need to evolve.

OK?

  • 195.
  • At 11:08 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Patricia Rodger wrote:

as mentioned above, I think that as the British Jewish population have had their cultural/religious courts here in the UK and have for a long time; these are not enshrined in either Scottish or English law and only deal with family issues and all legal decisions have to be confirmed via normal Scottish/English law.

If it is acceptable for the Jewish population to have their own courts, then we cannot prevent Moslems from having their cultural/religious courts too. It was suggested above that anyone who wants their own courts should leave this country (or not come to this country)...I suggest that rather than taking a stance against people who have made no claim for this court on their own part, there should be a review of ALL 'alternative' courts - informal or not - that operate in this country.

I also take issue with the suggestion that Muslims are 'leeches' in our society - perhaps the gentleman who wrote this should consider the way that the British Empire exploited natural resources and populations all over the globe to feather the British nest before he casts aspersions against people who have a legitimate right to live in the UK regardless of ethnicity, colour or religion.

I am white, female, Scottish and 'middle aged' - and clearly able to think clearly and pragmatically rather than taking a reactionary stance and totally misunderstanding the point that was being made.

  • 196.
  • At 11:08 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • phil wrote:

This is not islamaphobia. State and religion should always be seperate. The forefarthers of the American constitution were aware of this. Religon has no place in a modern society.

  • 197.
  • At 11:08 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • linton wrote:

very disappointed in jeremy paxman on how he one sided his views are in relation to this topic......his questions are completely distorded and only looking at the worst of shariah law......he's form me completely summed up the typical view of the media in this great country.of which is alot more intelligent that this. and as one his guest told him that parts of shariah are already in british legal system.....jeremy dont join in this neo-nazi view in your questions and let all guests at least finish what theyve got to say before asking another question

  • 198.
  • At 11:08 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • JP wrote:

If anyone comes to this country they have to respect our laws 100%. If we went to their country and espected legal changes there would be an uproar.If they don't like the laws then go home!

People are getting accused of islamaphobia which is disgusting. We are all equal under the British legal system, and not some more equal than others. This includes MP's and the House of Lords.

  • 199.
  • At 11:09 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mike Evans wrote:

The Archbishop is wise and sensible.
It's a shame the rightwing and media have whipped up this anti-islamic feelings.

He has never said that Sharia would override UK law.

Not worth trying to talk sense to this mob society.

  • 200.
  • At 11:09 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • mick wrote:

colour is not an issue when in ROME springs to mind!

  • 201.
  • At 11:09 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • John O'Sullivan wrote:

This man has no right to represent Christians in the uk.
He is out of touch, out dated and completelely dated. He should resign immediately as a man who is not in touch..We are are a secularly society and he has no right to mention these subjects...he should go back to the monastry where he belongs

  • 202.
  • At 11:09 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • incandescent wrote:

How many centuries have our ancestors fought for to bring us to the civilised society we now enjoy?
In one fell swoop it could be taken away because there is no other religious group that continuously pesters for more rights (ok,they didnt in this case,it was the incredibly naive leader of the church of england)and this would truly lead to a 2 tier society.If this were to occur i shall be out of here before you can say 'cuckoo in the nest'...

  • 203.
  • At 11:09 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Amina Vora wrote:

I Just dont get the whole agrument. Just watching Newsnight, the professor of Islamic Studies of Oxford University, explained that muslims dont want a sharia law, they are happy being ruled under the British law. Then wats the whole disscussion for, its not being asked for, its not being wanted why debate if sharia law is good or bad etc, if its thats totally beside the point.

  • 204.
  • At 11:10 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Nat wrote:

If you compare quality of life between democratic countries vs. those with Sharia Law and you'll find that in almost all cases the latter has the highest rates of rape, human rights abuses, murders ('honour killings') and
violence. Doesn't it say something that so many Muslim
immigrants are fleeing their homelands to live here?
To then demand Sharia law in a country in which they
are priveleged guests is deeply insulting - I doubt if
as a female atheist any Muslim country would change
its laws to suit me! It's time we stand up to this threat before it becomes a reality, our British men are starting to speak out to protect their women and daughters. Do yourselves proud, boys!

  • 205.
  • At 11:10 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Shamshad Patel wrote:

I have a feeling that this debate is pretty pointless, come on people, does anybody really believe that Sharia law would become the dominant law of the land here? I cant ever see that happenning. Also havent we already got aspects of Sharia law running already, such as justice for all, isnt that also an aspect of British law? Lets concentrate on reality rather than something that will probably never happen. Realities such as the growing Islamaphobia that I and other British Muslims feel. Why don't we deal with that as a country first? It might help if the media didnt jump on every Islamic based story available and blow it out of all proportion, such as this Sharia law story.

  • 206.
  • At 11:10 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • allygally wrote:

Has anyone considered that the AB is really making special pleading for religious ideas and religious laws above secular ideas and secular laws.
Jeremy Paxman touched on this point, but did not follow it through

The AB knows that he would be laughed out of court if he suggested the reinstatement of Christian courts and laws, so he suggests Islamic courts.

Once he has them he can say: what about our Christian courts and laws, then? It's only fair....

  • 207.
  • At 11:10 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • ben savage wrote:

This is Britain! This is NOT a muslim country. This is a christian country. I have no problem with the muslim community living in Britain under British law but even the thought of bringing in shariah law makes me sick. This is an evil law that will aid terrorism and upset many many people. The archbishop should be ashamed of himself for even mentioning the idea of shariah law and should resign immediately! Shal we all just go to arabia or asia to the muslim country's and start building churches and trying to pass British law in them countries? No we shouldn't simply because we would be shot dead for even trying! So why is anyone even considering passing shriah law in this country? it makes me sick! This country is going downhill and fast

  • 208.
  • At 11:10 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • ahmed wrote:

I think the ABC has only really talked about what other people think about, he is brave and rightly has ignited a good debate. I do believe that there is a lot of Islamaphobia and the ABC has in many ways always supported multiculturalism.

  • 209.
  • At 11:10 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • G Finney wrote:

Will no one rid us of this troublesome priest?

  • 210.
  • At 11:11 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Bryan27 wrote:

Your treatment of the issue on Friday night's programme was appallingly biassed against religion. The initial package misrepresented the Archbishop's position. Douglas Murray was allowed to behave like a secular thug, given far too much air time, & claiming to know more about Islamic law than Mr Ramadan. Mr Ramadan was treated very badly - interrupted persistently every time he spoke.

I expect from Newsnight an intelligent analysis. Invariably, when you get onto religion, the programme shows precious little understanding & bullies religious spokesmen with a secularist viewpoint. It's time the BBC got itself a decent religious correspondent & performed a public duty to challenge the Islamophobia sweeping our society.

  • 211.
  • At 11:11 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Patricia Hodges wrote:

Islam is definitely a threat in this country, and not just terrorism perpetrated by extremists, but a cultural threat. Muslims's endless demands and inability to adjust to our culture is the problem and Rowan Williams has simply made this more clear. Rowan Williams the religious leader of this country? I don't think so. He is not worthy of the office he holds.

  • 212.
  • At 11:11 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Rev. K. Saunders wrote:

I was shocked when my daughter came home from school stating that every pupil was told that for 2 days they had to join in with Muslim festivals, and beliefs. I complained that my daughter was a Christian and did not want to take part and I was told I was Islamophobic! This is not true and I have several Muslim friends. My daughter made a choice to follow the Christian teaching a few years earlier and she has a right to practice her religion and to take part in this was wrong. The result was that she was marked absent without permission from school.

It seems to me that I am NOT allowed to be Christian in what is called a Christian country.

  • 213.
  • At 11:11 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Richard Ching wrote:

Which God does this Archbishop believe in?

Or for that matter does the Archbishop believe in God?

More importantly does God believe in this Archbishop?

Does God believe in Sharia law?

God knows!

  • 214.
  • At 11:12 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • rob wrote:

I have just watched the heated debate about the Archbishops comments. I am not sure what has angered me more. The reporting of what the Archbishop has said by the BBC has been disgusting and nothing short than a gross distortion of what was actually said purely, I suspect, inorder to whip up anti-islamic feeling and generate ratings.

Worse, was watching the little fascist from the so called Centre for Social Cohesion. I am amazed that the BBC would give a platform to someone who quite clearly is racist. His points not only showed his ignorence of Islamic law, what the archbishop said but also his ignorence of the accomodations English and Scottish law has made for certain aspects of religious life.
His utter contempt for Professor Ramadan and his appalling lack of manners for the other guests was disgusting.

  • 215.
  • At 11:12 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Lance Caton wrote:

What the Archbishop actually said was that we should look at allowing some aspects of sharia law operating within the British legal system. Having abusive and bigoted commentators like Murray on Newsnight as tonight insulting real intellectuals who were blocked from responding to the questions was one of the worst examples of trash faux debate I've ever seen.

  • 216.
  • At 11:12 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Stephen wrote:

Taken to its ultimate end if people don't agree with the law of the land they can choose their own system of law, well anarchists don't believe in any law so under Dr William's proposals they will have the right to ignore any law and go round killing and blowing things up, after all that is their believe system.

  • 217.
  • At 11:12 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • aziz wrote:

I would just like to point out that one very important ruling in Islamic/Sharia law is that you must abide by the law of the country you live in aslong as it does not contradict Islamic law.
ie. If aspects of islamic law were accepted in this country, these laws could not go against UK law. For example, Funding based on Sharia law is offered by many high street banks, but all the terms etc have to be within British finance law.
So it is not a fact that if aspects of Sharia law were recognised in this country, they would outway British law. It is really dissapointing when polititions and racists use ignorance to frighten and control a nation.

  • 218.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • dale wrote:

I agree with Mr Murray.The law has accomodated the banking laws,but that is not enough they now want Sharia. Will the next 'want' be an Islamic state within Britian?.

  • 219.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Grant C wrote:

The idea that any one culture or religion should have its laws included in British Law is obviously ludicrous. There aren't just one or two religious groups in this country - why would only Sharia Law be included? There are Hindus, Bhuddists, Scientologists and so on... how are they included? No, it must be one law for all and that law already exists.

  • 220.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Had Enough wrote:

SHARIA LAW IS ALREADY HERE!! Financial instituations already offer Sharia compliant mortgage products whereby muslims do not actually own the property yet and dont pay interest, they pay a kinda rent/managment charge instead. However, due to this they also qualify for housing benefit from the local authority to assist with the rent, so the British taxpayers purse is actually buying houses for muslims in Sharia law. There are already sharia law exemptions in place in the uk to prevent the muslim paying stamp duty twice when the property is actually transferred to them at the end of the product term.
This is the sign of things to come. We cant celebrate Christmas anymore at work it is 'festive season' instead. What is happening to our national identity?
Honestly some people need to really wake up as to what is really happening in the UK. Good Luck

  • 221.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • JohnMilton wrote:

The man suffers from two fundamental conceits - the first is that if you are super-intelligent you don't need to communicate with ordinary people - so if the Sun reacts against him they are right (even if they are wrong) because he clearely holds their readers in contempt - the second conceit is that because he is Archbishop of Canterbury (ie leader of a fatally divided minority faith) that he represents the Church of the Nation so he can speak for Muslims because he is the Anglican chief. He should stay - not least because he exposes all of Anglicanism's contraditions and may bring about their end - but also because he is the essence of the argument for disestablishment. Important to note I write as a progressive Christian.

  • 222.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • L. Hawkins wrote:

I think that there has been a strong knee jerk reaction to the Archbishop's words. He was not saying that Sharia criminal law should be accepted in Britain. He was only putting forward the idea of some CIVIL law being available for those Muslims who chose to use it, such as Jewish people in Britain can chose to do, for example, concerning money or marriage. I took someone to court under Sharia law while I was living in the United Arab Emirates, although I am not a Muslim, and it was definitely in my interest. I am a middle aged Englishwoman and was treated in the police station and in the court with the utmost respect.

  • 223.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • JO wrote:

What a disappointing episode. No-one was made to answer questions put to them. I would have been interested in hearing the muslim's answers ro the point that in sharia law a woman's word is worth half than a man's. I resent the implication that to disagree with or question islamic law is islamophobic. I am not against any religion but i do believe that people have to abide by the law of the country in which they choose to live

  • 224.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Eamonn Gaffey wrote:

This man, despite his erudition, or perhaps because of it, has made an extremely foolish move.

He lives in a world of privilege, completely removed from the reality of most people, and displays the usual academic arrogance of assumption of specialist knowledge in obscure disciplines. I find it unbelievable that he can hold a public religious office, with political authority, and not have thought through the implications of public airing of his views.

Probably best to go back to whatever cloistered environment he can be of least harm in. Sad, in the real sense of the word, as we are badly in need of enlightened leadership, from whatever quarter, rather than acts of gross insensitivity such as this.

  • 225.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Gerda Van Gysegem wrote:

watching the debate between Ramadan, the Bishop and Murray, and also the presenter, I can't fail to notice how Ramadan did not get a proper chance to make his point, got interupted constantly by presenter and Murray (not Bishop). The first sign of a civilised society is the ability to LISTEN to eachother's point of view, without interupting. Murray was very obviously defending himself, his cool image and not even prepared to listen. I was impressed with the Bishop who had clearly got an insight into what was going on and did not interupt or attack. I was impressed with Ramadan who was representing the Muslim people in a pretty honest way, but didn't get his message true because of the racket the others made while he was talking. A civilised society indeed!!?? More like dogs and cats, at eachother's throats...

  • 226.
  • At 11:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Gavin wrote:

The public reaction to this has been nothing sort of disgraceful. Once again Britain shows just how ignorant it is by refusing to actually looking at what the archbishop was saying, and instead flying off the handle. Sharia law WOULD NOT supercede British law, and would only be used in civil cases when both parties AGREED to abide by a ruling. In any debate British law would take precedence. If anything it would help by freeing up the already clogged up British courts as civil matters could be dealt with locally under sharia law where applicable.Please take the time to listen instead of letting ourselves down in the eyes of the world once again by letting our rampant intolerence be exposed.

  • 227.
  • At 11:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Dave Gowans wrote:

What's "British law"?

In my country the law of Scotland applies, and archbishops are irrelevant, as they ought to be in any rational and moral society.

Church (or mosque) and state are separate. Religions are tolerated. It's not a problem - people can believe what they like. Let them get on with it.

The guy Ramadan at least sounded rational, but the others were either befuddled or belligerent in the shouting match. But sharia isn't going to happen any more than Leviticus (although there might not be too much difference between them!)

  • 228.
  • At 11:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • clem alford wrote:

I have just listened to the debate on Newsnight. It seems, according to the Muslim academic, that there are so many interpretations of Sharia it makes it impossible to know what is 'the law'. Either there is amputation of limbs for theft or there isn't. Either there are equal rights for women or there aren't. Seems that there aren't many woman on these Sharia panels. Why on earth try to incorporate a medieval belief into laws that have evolved since the European enlightenment. If we did adopt Sharia then you may end up like Salman Rushtie or Theo Van Gogh who questioned Islam however much Muslims say otherwise!

  • 229.
  • At 11:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • David darlow wrote:

perhaps it has been missed but the archbishop is supposed to represent the christian faith which this country follows and to show complete disregard for our faith in proposing that another faith should be given higher status in law than the law that we have to follow is and should be a sackable offence it also shows why the christian church in Britain is in decline when such stupid statements are made by it's leading light.

  • 230.
  • At 11:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • John Edward Leonard wrote:

I cannot begin to consider the merits of acknowledging Sharia law within our legal system until the proponents of this idea can name a single Islamic Country which could allow Christian attitudes to be recognised within their legal system. As of to-day we are many times more tolerant of Muslims than any Islamic country is of Christians

  • 231.
  • At 11:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • John Clarke wrote:

During a recent conversation, I was surprised at the concern some intelligent, liberal women expressed regarding muslim attitudes to women being imported into this country. These women were not concerned so much for themselves but for their daughters.

The archbishop does not appear to be aware of the very genuine fears that some women have about islam and his call for sharia law to be accommodated is certainly the wrong way to address these concerns.

  • 232.
  • At 11:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Luke wrote:

I must say that I am saddened and appalled by the violent atmosphere that that this media firestorm has created. While I do not agree at all with the archbishop's comments (it would not be prudent or just to have a two-tiered legal system), they were considered and thoughtful as are most of his intellectual explorations. A (perpetually angry) Douglas Murray seemed to think that the apocalypse had come and rode roughshod over any qualifications and caveats that the archbishop made. Moreover, viewing all sharia - however interpreted - as demoniacal and fundamentally different to Jewish law in nature seems somewhat Islamophobic. It was disgraceful, frankly. We should all be ashamed at our childishness.

  • 233.
  • At 11:14 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Damian wrote:

I am embarrassed as a Christian and as a British man. Am I surprised of the intolerance to "comment", "opinion", "ideas"? So we are bound to be intolerant of religion. What has truly shocked me is the BBC, it's outrageous. You have spent the past 5 years accusing this government and the US governments decision to invade Iraq as the single most effective ralion call to Muslims to attck the West, well you are now as guilty. Talk about sexing up a dossier, get the facts right, peoples lives are at stake.

  • 234.
  • At 11:15 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Victoria wrote:

I have just been watching Newsnight and am quite disturbed by the behaviour and comments of Mr Murray. It is of a great concern that this gentleman should be part of an organisation that promotes Social Cohesion. A fearful and neo-conservative view point Mr Murray has demostrated, which does not aide the debate in hand.

I think the Archbishop is correct in thinking that in order for the British community to integrate and learn we must talk openly about the issues at hand. I think it rather foolish that we should assume that the Archbishop should want to institute laws that will degrade women, call for execution and torture! How the media likes to provoke a wave of ignorance by undermining a great man and his excellent achievements and vast intelligence.

WE, the British public, should all be ashamed of ourselves for creating and following a preverse train of thought, speculating and fearing on a overly dramatised, fabricated branch of the debate.

I am a white non believer, but the Archbishop has my support for believing in this country, its existing values whilst trying to promote not only his own religion but that of others. He has made a believer out of me.

  • 235.
  • At 11:15 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • J English wrote:

Let me make this very clear. I and many others are prepared to take up arms, if necessary, to ensure that sharia law NEVER becomes part of British law. Islamophobia means fear of Islam, and any non-Muslim or Muslim apostate who understands Islam understands that fear of Islam is perfectly rational and sensible. The people who don't fear it are the people who don't understand it. I am Islamophobic, for the same reason that Winston Churchill was Islamophobic. He's the man to whom all British citizens owe their freedom. Churchill considered Islam an extreme ideology more dangerous than Nazism or communism. Look up his comments on Islam.

  • 236.
  • At 11:15 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Sarah wrote:

I felt moved to post a comment on a website for the first time in my life, having just watched with horror the discussion 'chaired' by Jeremy Paxman. Here was an opportunity for a reasoned and worthwhile discussion of a very serious issue, ruined. Shame on you Jeremy - I credited you with more intelligence; shame on Newsnight - your audience deserve better than this; shame on the BBC - you are playing with fire in a most irresponsible way. How depressing.

  • 237.
  • At 11:16 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Phil wrote:

NO religion should be involved in law-making/enforcing: the legal system should itself be neutral on matters of religion, colour, class etc., even though its participants will have these differences.

I think Williams is playing a dangerous game, he wants to promote the idea that religion should somehow be more involved with law-making again: even if this is not his intention, the fact is that sharia promotes some disgraceful attitudes on women, gay people and various other issues.

Religious courts belong in the middle ages, and should be kept there.

  • 238.
  • At 11:16 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mohamed wrote:

islamphopia is spreading like a speed train in this country thanks to the mass media.
the fact that it is not Muslims campaigning for Shariah in Britain that is a cause of tension. It is the policies of western governments to deny people's desire to live by Shariah in the Muslim world(AFGANISTAN, SOMALIA, CHECHNYA). i am a British Muslim and i am not advocating to change the British legal system to any system

REMEMBER:it was the Shariah that allowed Muslim, Jew and Christian to live side by side for centuries in relative harmony;

  • 239.
  • At 11:16 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Betty Hunter wrote:

From Jeremy Paxman's introduction I thought we would have a reasoned and thoughtful discussion of the Archbishop's comments but it didn't take too long for him to lapse into the combative mode with the one Muslim contributor.

First he interrupted him immediately, then allowed Murray to interrupt him continually.

Mr. Murray spoke in an aggressive manner to Mr. Ramadan and Paxman took up the tone decisively - as revealed when he prefaced a question with 'Even you...'.

Then every time Mr. Ramadan started to answer, Paxman interrupted immediately with a repeat of the question or another question simply because he was trying to explain.

All other contributors were allowed to make their points - why did you not want the Muslim contributor to be given the same opportunity?

It really isn't good enough.

Betty Hunter

  • 240.
  • At 11:16 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Christian Salder wrote:

The Arch Bishop has taken the position that he holds and abused it. He takes religious leadership and abuses it by ignoring conserative christian beliefs in favour of a liberal and political agenda. The Anglican church leader no longer supports my beliefs. It is time for him to retire. I do not need the Anglican church to follow my faith. I am considering my position.

  • 241.
  • At 11:16 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • sue capstick wrote:


Rowan Wiliams has initiated a debate which of course is highly sensitive, touchy and for those who do not understand the principles of Sharia Law incites fear, but this is also timely and necessary in our multcultural society.
Surely the media are not too naive as to aggrevate Islamaphobia and thereby prevent a intelligent debate from taking place.
I thank Rowan Williams for his intelligent thought.
Please dont be disheartened!

FOOL OR KNAVE

Having watched the Newsnight furore, it appears that it is "fool or knave" time again. If Williams is a great mind, he knew in advance his words would launch a wave of anti-Islamic feeling among those non-scholars who identify themselves as indigenous British and vaguely Christian. He also knew he could look on in horror as Muslim erosion of Christianity is brought to a halt “because he has been misunderstood”. I have not read “The Prince” – did Machiavelli cover this one?

Or he is a fool.

  • 243.
  • At 11:17 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • mark slade wrote:

will all these so called intellects please note the comments of the "NORMAL" people that we don't like all this crap being spoken about islam and islam law,go to the public and uk/british work places and see the re-action,and you will see we don't want you if, you want your laws go and live in these places where it is respected and used,you want to live in the uk then abide by our rules and laws,we have to in yours,i must say at this point i feel my own country of which i am proud is making me a racist,we and my kind will never bow down to islam,we don't want you here at all,if i lived in your birthplace i would have to abide by your rules,grow up and respect our rules and laws,if you don't like it GO HOME.

  • 244.
  • At 11:17 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • John Truscott wrote:

A very good example to highlight the danger of religious interference in the law. What is wrong with one law for all? Why do ethnic minorities, albeit welcome in this country, believe that they can have undue influence over the vast majority of citizens. Unfortunately, if there was a different message intended by the Archbishop it has been missed. The Islamic extremists will love the perception of the words and will use it against us. That is what extremists do! The devout muslim will be all fired up and those who perceive that religion in a negative light will counter equally forcefully. The ordinary citizen of the UK may be disinterested, amused or annoyed at the Archbishop for not thinking through the way he loosed his message (whatever the intention). The result was inevitable. For all those terrorists or misguided idiots who wish to use this to further their cause (and there are those who DO want to spread Islam across the globe no matter the cost) I have a message:

You have NO chance!

  • 245.
  • At 11:17 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Derek Brash wrote:

Outraged. We've fought for our rights and liberation. British Gay Muslims need our support and protection from homophobic shariah law.

  • 246.
  • At 11:17 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Keith Jordan wrote:

I am disappointed that tonight's Newsnight dodged the question. While getting a few people with opposing views to argue the toss might make good TV, the debate was of low quality.

Why is the nation up in arms?

Newsnight chose to present the debate with theological scholars and clergy - but this is a reaction against such types - so one half the argument was unrepresented.

I believe the majority consider the Enlightenment to be incomplete, and in peril of reversal. Clergy no longer represent us - what were they doing on the show? Islamic scholars are equally pointless - who gives a fig for their opinion (apart from the BBC)?

The big question tonight was 'WHY the kerfuffle?', the BBC had a chance to answer it, but shied away because of its own religious agenda. Shame.

We've clearly still got a long way to go before we get separation of church and state in this country.

  • 247.
  • At 11:17 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mikael Barton wrote:

Now I admit I am not a religious person, I don't agree with organised religion full stop. However I will defend the Archbishops comments. What is the problem of someone starting an educated debate on a controversial subject? The press create the hype, politicians do what they do best.... make uneducated, unresearched comments in order to remain popular rather than tackle the real issues of multicultural society and finally the public read the nonsense in the press and suddenly get riled up over edited and misinterpreted comments made by the Archbishop, who is of a religion in which itself does not adequately meet the demands of modern society.

When will the madness end and when will we start having educated discussion over the issues that matter?

  • 248.
  • At 11:17 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • martin murray wrote:

perhaps the archbishop should look closer to the inevitability of the disestablishment of the church of england and start from there. we vote and petition for laws and changes in the law and everything can be discussed and debated vigorously. sharia law cannot be debated vigoroursly as this would be seen as insulting to islam and therefore it should not become part of our laws. surely the best would be to say that the state have no set religion but ought to be aware and sensitive to the religious views of its citizens be those views atheist, agnostic, muslim, christian or whatever; that way the 'church' and state can keep a respectful distance from each other. to this end the sooner the church of england is disestablished and unelected religious heads removed from any part of our houses of parliament the better.

  • 249.
  • At 11:18 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • J Watkins wrote:

If you see the 'Archbishop of Canterbury', tell him that we are still a CHRISTIAN country, and he SUPPOSED to be a Christian. The LORD is returning soon to judge the quick and the dead, leaders being judged first and more stringently ON the word of God.

So, stop reading your Koran and get familiar with your OWN book Rowan.

Tell your bumbling clerics too.

  • 250.
  • At 11:18 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jill Cox wrote:

I listensd carefully to Rowan Williams original speach and was very impressed with its content, most of it was plain common sense. Then the BBC & Evening Standard et al edited it till it was unreoognisable then the smarmy shit stiring David Dimbleby put his odious slant on it till it bore no resembalance to to the speech I had listened to. Humbug.
The average Brit is so beguiled by Soaps etc. they cant digest such educated oration.

  • 251.
  • At 11:19 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • lauren wrote:

I can't believe how much everyone is jumping on the media bandwagon, the Archbishop hasn’t said that he agrees with introducing beatings, or to make it so that women had less value within the law than men do. all he has said that our law should try to take into account some Sharia law, like we already do with Jewish law.
Don't get me wrong, i think if people live in Britain they should live by the British law but the British law should respect different religions to a certain extent.
This debate has been taken completely out of context, and that’s what it is just a debate, its not a proposal from Government to change the law.

  • 252.
  • At 11:19 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • jack conway wrote:

It has taken hundreds of years for the british people to throw the yolk of religion of our backs.
It seems a backward step to allow any religion to have the same power over sections of our society in the twenty first century.

  • 253.
  • At 11:19 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Carl O wrote:

There is no room for islamic law within a British system, giving an inch will lead to more demands upon Britian, if you live in Britain, you obey the laws.

If Shariah Law is adopted into the system will this not leave other religious systems of judicary demanding the same thing!

Everyone is equal under British Law, and there should be no other system within our nation.

This is entirely against the opinion of the British people are for a leading figure to even suggest such an idea is to suggest to people, "it is ok for this to happen.", it is not ok, I think many people such as me are willing to stand up for this view and make sure that Shariah Law takes no part in the British system/ In addition I believe that this gives Muslim Radicals an indication that it is ok to demand such a thing!

The Archbishops words, far from making it more likely for religion to be accepted by many British people, is stirring up a Phobia of Religion and its effects on people, to name the worst one a believe you are fighting for god, this is to commit the greatest atrocities, this has happened on innumeral occasions in history. such as the Crusades, and is still happening today.

  • 254.
  • At 11:19 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • steve reynolds wrote:

I think this country has always been very tolerant, but enough is enough there is only one law and that is that. Have lived in many muslum country's they live by there law and i respect that, so they should only have our law and respect us.


If they really think strongly about this law they can and have the right to live in a country were this law is. Its as simple as that live with our law or leave.

  • 255.
  • At 11:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Malcolm James wrote:

The debate was certainly not helped by Paxman's shabby handling of interviews tonight. His pandering to the right-winger with little knowledge and few coherent arguments, while shouting down both the moderate and learned Islamic scholar and the Bishop of Hulme, were bewildering to any impartial viewer used to earlier standards on this programme.

This is a bad time for tabloid standards to creep into the BBC. If you can't handle a subject like this seriously, you would do the country a favour by avoiding it, or by retiring Jeremy Paxman to harmless occupations like chairing University Challenge.

  • 256.
  • At 11:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Keith Jordan wrote:

I am disappointed that tonight's Newsnight dodged the question. While getting a few people with opposing views to argue the toss might make good TV, the debate was of low quality.

Why is the nation up in arms?

Newsnight chose to present the debate with theological scholars and clergy - on a story about the reaction against such types - so one half the argument (and 95% the UK) was unrepresented.

I believe the majority consider the Enlightenment to be incomplete, and in peril of reversal. Clergy no longer represent us - what were they doing on the show? Islamic scholars are equally pointless - who gives a fig for their opinion (apart from the BBC)?

The big question tonight was 'WHY the kerfuffle?', the BBC had a chance to answer it, but shied away because of its own religious agenda. Shame.

We've clearly still got a long way to go before we get separation of church and establishment in this country.

  • 257.
  • At 11:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ivor Manning wrote:

Luke 13 refers to the herb mustard becoming an unatural tree. This has been demonstrated by the Archbishop, has happened to the church.of Christondom (not the Christian church)
As a committed Christian I plea for a secular state. Clear the Bishops from the Lord's.
Let individuals vote according to the convictions held without the exploitation of Zealots of any faith, who it seems negate the values of the faith they claim. Be it Islamic or right wing southern American version of Christyanity.
A Secular state and one law for all

  • 258.
  • At 11:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • anthony roberts wrote:

God forbid that the Archbishop ever returns to his homeland (Wales) with these horrendous ideas.I sincerely hope that he's very contented to stay in England - you're welcome to him!!!

  • 259.
  • At 11:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Buckley wrote:

What happens if a Muslim wishes to convert to,say,Christianitity.This is
punishable by death in Shariah.What happens then?Will the "Muslim Authorities" hand him/her over upon request of the State?The whole thing is a joke.What with Arabic broadcasts
across Oxford,and the State dishing out extra benefits to Muslims for no reason other than that they are bigamous,the rest of us will have to find another "green and pleasant land".

  • 260.
  • At 11:20 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ronald Jenkins wrote:

"Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest."
Prophetic words spoken by Henry II in 1170.
Thomas Becket's crime was to defend Christian values. Our present archbishop's crime was to devalue them.
What's next four armoured knights entering Lambeth Palace.

  • 261.
  • At 11:21 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Rev. K. Saunders wrote:

Christianity is being pushed out of our schools and replaced by Islam. Over the last decade through complaints from Muslims, Christianity is not taught to our children. We are told that it is a multi faith society but if we examine it closely we will find that Islam is replacing the teaching in the school.

If I was in a muslim country I would be sentaced to death if I speak against Islam. Think of the teacher in Sudan!

This year my daughters school no longer has Christian celebrations like Christmas Carol Service or Easter because there were complaints from muslims. Instead we now have a concert!

Maybe it is time, rather than just being a Christian country by name we should practice what we believe. Return the teaching to our schools, after all the children used to have respect for others when Christianity was taught in our schools.

  • 262.
  • At 11:21 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Pam Lunn wrote:

I've just been watching the item on Newsnight. Mr Murray is an appalling young man - rude, arrogant, ill-mannered, and behaving as though he were in an undergraduate debating society. Jeremy Paxman totally failed to be an adequate chair, allowing Mr Murray to speak over, interrupt and drown out Prof Ramadan. Prof Ramadan was quite right to attempt to point this out, and Jeremy Paxman was quite wrong to get irritated with him for trying to do so. This whole issue requires calm and thoughtful discussion - the all-too-easy media position of bringing people together for an adversarial studio fight adds nothing to the substance of the discussion and merely fans the flames. It's only what I expect, alas, of Newsnight, but I hope that somewhere in the BBC there is someone preparing a more grown-up discussion.

  • 263.
  • At 11:21 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Gobhicks wrote:

Just curious, but who vets these posts?

  • 264.
  • At 11:21 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • steve reynolds wrote:

I think this country has always been very tolerant, but enough is enough there is only one law and that is that. Have lived in many muslum country's they live by there law and i respect that, so they should only have our law and respect us.


If they really think strongly about this law they can and have the right to live in a country were this law is. Its as simple as that live with our law or leave.

  • 265.
  • At 11:21 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • jennym wrote:

For the first time in my 57 years I feel moved to respond to something in the media.I'm so sad that Jeremy Paxman's chairing of the 'debate' tonight put another nail in the coffin of reason. I felt he was utterly disrespectful to the muslim speaker and to the bishop. It seemed that he and the guy from (community??) cohesion were not at all interested in the view that the media might have misrepresented what the archbishop had said, and JP descended to that infuriating ploy of 'answer the (quite shallow) question. A lost opportunity to find out more. An on screen harangue and cut-off speakers does not constitute a debate. Shame on you.

  • 266.
  • At 11:22 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Henry Sienkiewicz wrote:

I don't think that reaction to the Archbishop's comments has been Islamophobic - rather it has been characterised by a weariness of just one thing after another that go in the face of the "British way of life".

To consider this Islamophobic is to take the view that any disagreement with a p.o.v. that promotes Islam is Islamophobic as if to hold a contrary view is wrong in itself.

  • 267.
  • At 11:22 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • bob wrote:

Its all been blown out of proportion once again by TV, press etc. They do love to cause trouble from nothing. Anyway how many people had heard of or know anything about Sharia Law, mostly only what has been written in the press and shown on TV since the speech, and remember he said only parts should be thought about, not put into action. After watching Newsnight tonight I was appalled at how Paxman differenciated between the people he interviewd, you can tell who he thought was 'right'. The way he cut Mr. Ramadan off was disgraceful, yet he let that Mr. Murray prattle on with what he wanted to say. Whatever happened to impartiality of the press. No wonder the country is in the mess it's in. Its people like these who caused the 'senation' in the first place, by showing only selected pieces of what was said. I am not that keen on the Archbishop and things he says, but this situation was caused by people in the money making, gutter press media.

  • 268.
  • At 11:22 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Chris Johnson wrote:

Who was that representative from the Department of Social Cohesion who has just appeared on Newsnight on Friday night? He made a mockery of the debate by being so arrogant and quite frankly, childish in his blinkered approach to it all. Where was the cohesion in that???!!

I don't doubt that his views would have a role to play IF anybody should suggest that Sharia law should be introduced as a replacement of English law for Muslims, but so far such a thing has not been suggested.

Newsnight, I think you should vet your guests a little harder before allowing them into such an important discussion.

  • 269.
  • At 11:22 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Noreen Jackson wrote:

I think Jeremy Paxman was completely biased against the Muslim interviewee this evening,constantly interrupting him, not letting him speak and badgering him to try to make him come up with simplistic sound-bite statements that satisfied Mr. Paxman's views of what Muslims do and think. On the other hand, he let the man in the studio rant for ages, repeating the same thing over and over. I am not a Muslim and do not support the argument for Sharia law but it was clear to me that Mr. Paxman was behaving in the reactionary way that the tabloid press employ - making complex issues so simplistic that they become meaningless.
He just wanted an argument, but unfortunately for him, there wasn't one to have, despite his best efforts to conjure one up. The Muslim academic was simply stating that the majority of Muslims in this country are happy with British law and have not asked for Sharia law.

  • 270.
  • At 11:23 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Daniel Sellen wrote:

I'm sorry but I really am struggling to understand why this debate has even come to pass amoung the intellectuals of our nation. Its seems as though as soon as the word "Shariah" was first mentioned everyone seems to have gone a little crazy, this was not the point that the archbishop was trying to raise, his actual intent seems to have been lost thanks to the media and people arguing without knowing all of the facts.

I have just sat down and watched newsnight and BBC2 and could not help but feel that the two religious leaders being interviewed were given no respect and I dont think ever got though a sentence without being interupted.

Now I am a Christian, I'm not Catholic and actually do disagree with some aspects of the Catholic Church, but I still respect them. I beg anyone else thats posting a comment to PLEASE think carefully about what they are about to say, give all parties all due respect and actually find out what you are talking about before you say anything. You will have noticed I have given no personal insight into this debate, this is because, and I stress, this debate should have never started in the first place and only exists because a few trigger happy people have not listened and thought about what was said. Instead they jumped to thier own misinformed conclusions.

  • 271.
  • At 11:23 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • ken wrote:

yes, it is desirable for all parties for muslims to further integrate within British society, however this is a christian country where all laws apply to everyone equally, no matter their religion, sex, or class, where forgiveness and circumstance is given adequate appreciation. There is no place for a dual system in law which would only serve to create a different classes and treatments for people who are, or should be, all equal.

  • 272.
  • At 11:23 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • mark wrote:

The Archbishops comments are totally disgraceful, British law is envied around the world for giving every person equal status irrelevent of religion or colour. The archbishop should resign. If a preson wants to be tried under sharia law then I suggest they go and live and work in a country that practises it. There must be one rule of law for everyone regardless of religion or colour if this changes social chaos will quickly follow and the very fabric of this country will crumble.

  • 273.
  • At 11:23 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Penny Hudson wrote:

Having read most of the posts on here I thought I would come up with a new idea. Maybe because Sharia law is already being practised in some parts of the UK covertly, the archbishop has brought this to the media's attention in a round about way so as to highlight what goes on behind closed doors. As a result, it inflames the British public who in turn with massive outcry stop Sharia law gaining any further momentum so it doesn't become part of our society by quietly slipping through our systems gaining government approval like so many back door policies our government is fond of foistering upon us whilst we are unawares.

  • 274.
  • At 11:23 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Adam C wrote:

Why is so difficult to have a grown up discussion in English life. Rather than a sensible discussion about a scholarly and important essay we get the numbskulls brought on centre stage to froth at the mouth and denounce all the things that were never said in the first place. So when Sharia is carefully described in the essay and he clearly stated that he was not advocating a parallel legal system or the inclusion of any parts of sharia law that were incompatible with UK law, how was this visually represented in the news (even just now on Newsnight) - footage of corporal punishment, handless beggars and the shooting of offenders. Mark Easton on the 10 O'Clock news tonight was literally frothing at the mouth at the end of his piece to camera (and by literally I do actually mean literally). And who was that pumped-up thug from the Centre for Social Cohesion? Was he really a muslim terrorist in disguise trying to recruit secularists to the muslim faith?

Why when the essay has been published in full does every media refuse to engage at the intellectual level that the essay demands and instead start baying for blood in the most ignorant way?

Why, also, did Jeremy Paxman think that it was enough for him simply to comment that he did not understand what the essay contained?

The one beam of sunshine in this whole sorry media scrum has been the intelligence and courage of the Bishop of Huhme.

  • 275.
  • At 11:23 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • johnholborow wrote:


Murray or whatever his name was on Newsnight this evening has much in common with the person who posted this facile gibberish on this board:

"We may not be phobic towards Moslems but we would do well to be phobic towards Shariah law. It is an evil we must fight against. I have been warning this would happen for years now. KEEP UP THE OUTRAGE, BRITAIN!"

what is shariah law? neither murray nor you have any clearly defined idea. certainly no idea based on any genuine understanding.

this kind of knee jerk, thinly veiled racist generalisation about 'shariah law' and the 'evil' it represents is disgusting and in fact is so childish that it would be comical if it wasn't tragically dangerous and inflammatory, tapping into, as it does, a nasty, dark , vicious side of so called modern 'britishness' - brutishness more like. Its rooted in a vacuous , dull headed prejudice which has a direct parallel in 1930's German anti semitism. They squealed that they were not racists or -phobes of one kind or another too. They too, like Murray and Ann Burgess and others , were simply looking for somewhere to park their own deep feelings of anxiety and inadequacy and frustration with the way of the world.

  • 276.
  • At 11:24 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • sady wrote:

Britain must have one single law for every one in the country and in this case it is definitely British law. British law however could be influenced by other laws around the world, be it american, asian or sharia law. But, what British law adopt or dicard must be a mere choice by the existing british legislative body.This issue should have never been debatable whatsoever.Britain is the most secular country and that is what it should be. any religious mind would be naturally phobic to other religion in a certain situation especially where there is so much unrest associated with religion.

  • 277.
  • At 11:24 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • malise gibney wrote:

Its taken long enough to separate church and state. state law is there to serve the interests of all its citizens, and must be protected from those who would pervert its course and promote their own interests.
I believe the archbishop to be a man of intellect and integrity but whatever he intended to convey is now lost in the furious debate, which is a pity.
As an athiest im always intrigued to know how and why intellegent and rational people come to their faith and how deeply they understand it, im not slagging, id love to have the comfort of it.

  • 278.
  • At 11:24 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • John Fletcher wrote:

Good to hear straight talking from Douglas Murray in contrast to Bishop Stephen Lowe and his attempts to defend the Archbishop !

  • 279.
  • At 11:24 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Pam Bowmaker wrote:

I was disgusted by Mr Murray's comments and behaviour, he was rude and offensive particularly to the Muslem Professor. Both the professor and Bishop Hulme were trying to present a calm and accurate account of what the Arch Bishop had actually said and intended - Mr Murray was outrageous, clearly islamaphobic, it terrifies me that we have such people claiming to work for social cohesion. His tirade tonight has undone decades of good work to make us a multicultural country valuing and practising tolerance and respect for all our cultures. As a recently retired Headteacher of a multicultural secondary school I fear for the disharmony that his aggressive and offensive responses will cause. I am really disappointed that Mr Paxman did not chair the discussion more fairly.

  • 280.
  • At 11:24 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mr R Payne wrote:

Why are so many Moslems in this country?
Are they asylum seekers from countries where they have suffered persecution, if so , they chose our country because of its better social and legal conditions than the social persecution of Moslem countries which operate under Shariah law.
That being the case I would expect them to seek a change in Shariah law not expect everyone else to accept it.
Anyone who wants to live under Shariah has plenty of countries to move to.
I was very uneasy by the Moslem speaker who sought to defend Shariah law, an educated man but a narrow blinkered view of the 21st Century society.

  • 281.
  • At 11:24 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • david smith wrote:

If the Jewish community are allowed their own courts/dispute settlement procedures I don't see what the issue with the Islamic community having a similar thing.

I think people should really read the speech in its entirety before forming any judgement.

  • 282.
  • At 11:25 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Tom Hume wrote:


What disturbs me is that many people on this blog,MPS & most elements of the media are passing and denounce him without reading what actually said.
It is very worrying that the very mention of anything to do with Islam,muslims ,etc, is jumped on and no one hears the real message becuase they are to busy shouting their opposition to it.
Everyone should make their own mind up after reading the facts, not been lazy reading or listening to the headlines .

  • 283.
  • At 11:25 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • easygoing_atheist wrote:

I'm shocked that the Archbishop said what he did, although I'm not shocked about the response from the public, which I fee is warrented. I feel that the whole thing again points to the vast deficit of equality and progression that exists in Islam. Unlike the other major religions of the world, Islam has not undergone a reformation in order to bring it out of the intense rigidity that it exists within. It is an extremely inflexible, uncompromising, intolerant faith and contains within it things like sharia which people in the UK should be alarmed by if even it is suggested that it could be introduced here. It clearly is the thin edge of a wedge and we really need to make a stand!

  • 284.
  • At 11:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Gobhicks wrote:

go Sue {{{XXX}}}

  • 285.
  • At 11:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • mark wrote:

Islamophobia, a made up term to silence dissenters of islam.

a phobia is classified as an irrational fear, i think most people know exactly what they don't like about islam and its medieval sharia.

the muslim spokesman on tonights newsnight was a classic example of shouting down the opposing view and casting muslims as the poor hard done to victims of global "islamophobia".

  • 286.
  • At 11:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Gill Thomas wrote:

The Archishop of Canterbury, by his hiding in his Palace in Lambeth, is demonstrating some of the same qualities of cowardism as the 9/11 and July bombers. I sincerely hope that his reason for not answering the mountain of criticism is that he is on his knees praying to God for forgiveness. His comments clearly demonstrate that he did not take the time to consider what he was going to say and that he did not pray for God's guidance and support before uttering these nonsensical and offensive remarks.

If I were a relative or friend of someone killed either in the atrocity of 9/11 or the July bombings in London, I would feel that my loved one had died in vain and would be grossly offended by his remarks.

The only good thing to emerge from this incident is that it has sparked a debate amongst the citizens of this country not only about the whole question of integration and tolerance but also, I hope, about the question of disestablishment of the Church of England.

I hope that vicars all over the country will take the opportunity on Sunday to denounce Dr Williams'remarks because it will be on their shoulders that responsibility for the repair of this damage will fall.

  • 287.
  • At 11:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Richard wrote:

For months there has been a debate in Britain about aspects of Sharia law. It seems to me that this law does not fit in with the present law in Britain which has been fashioned and refined over many centuries. But always based on Christian principles. Islamic culture does not fit in to British culture. Most Moslems living in Britain are very content to live under British law.
I believe that Islam is a powerfully 'evangelical' religion and that some powerful Islamic leaders here would be working towards a gradual imposition of Islamic culture (including the law) into British society. So, Rowan Williams' talk to the lawyers was naively given. As an academic he did not expect a public outcry. But as a Christian (and a Anglican) I wish to be led by an Archbishop as a pastor and Christian leader. He should not resign (this time) but must consult with his advisers before uttering any more public pronouncements. I,and many more Christians, can only pray for him.

  • 288.
  • At 11:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Cass wrote:

For those who think that Shariah would not have an impact in this country even if introduced on a limited scale think again. The Pact of Umar is still operational should there be an adoption of Shariah Law again, or a dominance by Islam. Just read that to get a true picture.

  • 289.
  • At 11:28 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • GLUCKMAN wrote:

Only a man who is quite out of touch with what it means to be a woman could possibly suggest anything romotely encouraging a sympathetic view towards shariah law. There is a reality for many women in middle eastern countries which is not a mere academic debating point but a stark and sometimes horrible reality. I simply do not understand why the archbishop should feel the necessity to make any concessions to such a system and can only assume that he does not understand, that he does not know what he is talking about. I am not a practicing chirsitan but feel totally betrayed as a british woman by his comments. no - we do not want to accomommodate such ghastly laws her.

  • 290.
  • At 11:28 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Carl O wrote:

Do you really think Christian law would be accepted in muslim countries, No! (we are technically a Protestant Country although I do not personnally believe, this is still a truth)

Our law provides a fair system which accounts for EVERYONE, why is there any need to even suggest that this needs to be changed?

  • 291.
  • At 11:28 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • GLUCKMAN wrote:

Only a man who is quite out of touch with what it means to be a woman could possibly suggest anything romotely encouraging a sympathetic view towards shariah law. There is a reality for many women in middle eastern countries which is not a mere academic debating point but a stark and sometimes horrible reality. I simply do not understand why the archbishop should feel the necessity to make any concessions to such a system and can only assume that he does not understand, that he does not know what he is talking about. I am not a practicing chirsitan but feel totally betrayed as a british woman by his comments. no - we do not want to accomommodate such ghastly laws her.

  • 292.
  • At 11:28 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Terry Power wrote:

Re:Rowan Williams.
If this man is so out of touch with the feelings of British society what is he doing as Archbishop of Canterbury? He should resign immediately.

  • 293.
  • At 11:29 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Glynis Davies wrote:

The BBC debate on the subject of Islam is like listening to Fox News (the right wing no-brain channel) in the US. I am ashamed to be English.

I often tell Americans how educated the British (wo)man-in-the-street is, and how we think about issues. I am clearly out of date when I brag that Britain thinks.

I visit London expecting a respite from the uninformed Islamophobic knee-jerk garbage I hear on American TV, not a repeat performance.

I am sure that the archbishop was thinking at a rather loftier level than is common at the water-cooler or pub, when he ruminated on equality, inclusivity and social justice, but this is a nation which understands concepts like prejudice.

We can separate a monolithic concept (all Muslims are barbarians who chop off hands and suppress women) from complexity (there are an almost infinite variety of Muslims, and of Islamic laws (given the nature of Islamic structure) and only the fruit-cakes are interested in stoning people for stupid crimes, and we’ll get further with talking than with yelling.

It is clear that the Archbishop disapproves of stoning and hand-choppings, and was thinking mainly along the lines of alignment of cultural regulations in family law, much the way Jewish family law is acknowledged in various societies.

Please stop sounding like a nation spawned by George W Bush. You guys are freaking me out here!

Glynis

  • 294.
  • At 11:29 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Eric Alley wrote:

I read fully the Archbishop's speech to the law society and I was astounded, to put it mildly, that the head of my Church should have propounded such ideas on the integration of Sharia law into our Christian society. I have now just watched the programme on the controversy and I am fully on the side of Mr Murray. It is a pity that there was not a cleric on his side of the debate. I have some knowledge of the operation of Sharia Law as I have had three missions to Saudi Arabia and have seen the results. On one occasion passing through Riyadh Airport I saw customs officials take away a British womans bible from her case and publicly tear it up in front of her. At no time were we allowed to hold christian services on a Sunday, except covertly in a colleagues bungalow behind closed curtains. If such action was suspected of happening the Matawa (Religious Police) would raid the house and smash it up. There is absolutely no question of multi-culturalism in that country.

  • 295.
  • At 11:29 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mark Lawrenson wrote:

The debate over Sharia law should be seen as a positive thing. It seems to have provoked the people of the UK into realising that we are losing our identity, and that we the have to do something about it. The melting pot ideals of the liberals have failed us and have created groups of people who do not try or want to integrate into UK society.
I would like to feel proud to be British again . But I'm not quite sure what it means any more!!!

  • 296.
  • At 11:29 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Bill Hansell wrote:

The Archbishop evidently believes that Sharia law is a pick and mix option, a little like the Curate's egg, good in parts.

He is totally naive and I believe that his position as the leader of the C of E is now totally untenable.

  • 297.
  • At 11:30 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Stourjim1 wrote:

The basic objection to the Archbisop's remarks is that his proposal is not acceptable within the Britiah democratic system. Magna Carta required that ALL British citizens be equal within the laws created and approved by a Parliament which was elected by the British people. It is just not permissable or acceptable that a bunch of clerics in a foreign religion can create different laws for some British citizens and enforce those laws outside the Briitish legal syatem. Why should we change OUR system to accommodate the peculiar beliefs of foreign immigrants.

  • 298.
  • At 11:30 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ken Protheroe wrote:

Having lived in Islamic countries for
in excess of 30 years, I see the facts to be evaluated as -
In Saudi Arabia, it would not be tolerated to gain any judgement in
other than Islamic law.
In Libya, I have witnessed visiting Catholic clergy being harassed as they endevoured to conduct a Christmas time service. In Tripoli,
no other place for worship exists outside of Islamic law. The main
mosque in Tripoli was once Catholic,
the latin inscriptions are still visible in door lintols. Treat like with like, those that ask for islamic
justice should be deported to where
such is metered out & not the UK.

  • 299.
  • At 11:30 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Cass wrote:

For those who think that Shariah would not have an impact in this country even if introduced on a limited scale think again. The Pact of Umar is still operational should there be an adoption of Shariah Law again, or a dominance by Islam. Just read that to get a true picture.

  • 300.
  • At 11:30 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • harmindapub wrote:

Why oh why are we discussing a system that clearly is biased towards one group in society, muslim men. This over compensation to accomodate the muslim community by people so hung up on being PC that they forget what what right and wrong is, amazes me. Remember the nicities and considerations afforded to muslims in this country are not offered in return in muslim countries. They also play into the hands of the radical right wing extremists, by adding credence to a bad system. Personally any acceptance of Sharia law in this country would see me leave. British law is not perfect, but it is more perfect than the alternative!!

  • 301.
  • At 11:30 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Claire Creese wrote:

Yes, in so far as the facts of what the Archbishop actually said have been distorted or outrightly ignored, the reason for which is a very serious cause for concern. To witness a moderate Muslim scholar being shouted down by one reactive and volatile guest and bullied by Mr Paxman does not hold much hope for civil society.

  • 302.
  • At 11:31 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Thomas Ferguson wrote:

That the debate around these comments has been deliberately made more controversial by the BBC is beyond question. Having, as a teacher of religious studies, a vested interest in the sensible debate around multiculturalism, I could scarce believe what the BBC chose to report.
3 examples:
1. The coverage on The Ten O'Clock News, which chose footage of scourging in West Africa as an appropriate clip to communicate the facts of this story to the public.
2, Nicky Campbell on 5live breakfast choosing to ask his guest not about the topic, but about Saudi crime rates.
3. 5live drive headlines update consistently claiming that the story was that Williams was "calling for Shari'a to be included".

There are simple factual errors in all of these reports and it is plain that there is something seriously amiss with the reporting. I can imagine one of three explanations:
1. Lazy journalism - yesterday, reporters didn't bother to read the lecture and thus did not report on the actual comments of the archbishop.
2. Mischievious journalism: on a low news day, a considered effort to whip up a controversy where there is none, by law, or in actual public debate (oft cited example of the Beth Din proves this)
3. Another agenda - a deliberate attempt to further drive the wedge between an invented sense of secular Britishness and the gradually less popular multicultural reality. This would truly be Islamophobia.

That individuals may choose a range of collective or individual moral views is in fact a fundamental tenet of the liberal democracy we hold dear, and the fact that we are able to include these whilst maintaining justice and order create the tolerant society of which we should be proud. Our politicians and journalists, so keen to jump on bandwagons and victimise for their own gain have all too obviously forsaken their ideological roots. If I do not have the right to challenge an immoral or unjust law, then I do not live in a democracy, yet all of a sudden the suggestion of alternative morality to that which is held by statute ( a lowest common denominator) is equivalent to treason.

  • 303.
  • At 11:31 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • D Rees wrote:

Muslims have a duty, one and all, to promote the Islamicisation of the planet. A minority use, and are using, violence to fulfill this duty , the majority strive to this end in other ways.
Why for example are Muslim women not allowed to marry outside the religion whilst Muslim men are, this is because the woman takes on her husbands religion and the children will therefore be Muslim, they tolerate the woman because they know they will harvest her children. Thereby using non Muslims to produce Muslims,perfect. They would prefer to kill the Muslim woman than allow her to give birth to non-Islamic children.
Once the principle of the practice of any degree of Sharia with equal standing to British law in this country is accepted, the dam is breached, and all that remains is its exploitation and expansion.
We would be mad to allow this Pandoras box to be opened.

  • 304.
  • At 11:31 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • David Brinicombe wrote:

Time to disestablish the C of E

I've been waiting for the status of the C of E within the British Establishment to come up, but it hasn't. The furore is because the Archbishop has a constitutional position as Head of the Established Religion which is long past its usefulness.

If we took the sensible step of making his church part of the multiplicity of religions and atheism in Britain instead of being the State Religion and the religion of the Monarchy, all of the clergy would be free to express their opinions. Instead, his thoughts have led to a constitutional crisis, due to his status, not an outbreak of Islamophobia.

The Church in Wales, where Williams came from, is just another of the accepted religions which are free to organise themselves in Britian. There is freedom of belief in this country and that freedom is incompatible with a State Religion.

  • 305.
  • At 11:32 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Nathan wrote:

The manner in which this question is posed is offensive and undermines any possibility of a rational debate. This illustrates the way in which, in such issues as this, the media seems to work against both sides of the debate, and against any possibility of any rational debate, purely in order to exploit the interest this comment has provoked in order to increase viewer ratings.

The question, as posed, refers to two eventualities, neither of which is of ANY relevance in relation to Dr. Williams' comment! No there is no threat to "our" society, and NO it is not "Islamophobia"!

I've just watched today's (Friday's) Newsnight, and I was dissapointed, as so often, that the debate is focused on whether or not the Archbishop ought to have said what he said, and on personal criticism of him himself! The debate as to whether we should have sharia in this country was hardly touched upon in any detail! Why?

I tuned in today in the genuine hope of finding out what precisely the Archbishop is proposing and what the arguments are against that. Having heard the debate Yesterday on P.M on Radio 4 my initial reaction was strongly against his proposals. But I unreservedly welcome the fact that he said what he said and had the courage to raise this issue. To "lampoon" him for merely having the audacity to say what he said, on the part of some elements of , so called, British society, is, to me offensive.

Good for him for raising the issue - and I think he was wrong.

But one thing is clear. Since this story broke we have been denied the opportunity to properly understand and debate what the Archbishop was saying by a media which needs to drum up contoversy at any cost in order to secure ratings.

I would have thought it was absurd to any one in this country that we have a separate law for a separate section of society! Laughable! It goes against 300 years of history! But I can be sure that there must be more to Dr. Williams proposal than that. I am sure that he proposed it in good faith with honest intentions. (Contrary to what the Sun (BNP) is implying, it is not likely that the the Archbishop of Canterbury would support the wholesale creation of an Islamic Republic in the U.K!) I would be interested to what his genuine point was. But that has been totally obscured by childish, factional behaviour by the kind of people we had on Newsnight tonigh, not least Paxman who delivers these cynical, unperceptive questions.

  • 306.
  • At 11:32 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Michael Russell wrote:

Like the rest of the silent majority in the UK I am astonished at the comments made by the Archbishop.
Everyone in this Country should be subject to the same law-without exception.
It is inexcuseable to allow Muslims to impose their narrow vision on our society. As a gay man-professional and partnered I abhor the intolerance which their religion promotes.There are of course many muslims who live in the Uk and wish to truly integrate and this I respect.
We must not however pander to any narrow religous philosphy of whatever persuasion-thankfully European society has moved on.
The Archbishop should ideally resign or as a minimum explain his naive and misguided speech.

  • 307.
  • At 11:32 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • martin miller wrote:

I spent almost 10 years working and living in Saudi Arabia, and witnessed a tremendously high level of crime from all types at all levels. Corruption was endemic in so many areas of life. Theft, such as daily shoplifting was very common. Young Saudis ( and older ones ) regularly broke all traffic laws. I was bribed ( attempted ) so many times by Saudi trainess, to pass ( and even , FAIL ) in course tests.
Drugs and alcohol consumtion was fairly common in so many Saudi households. Wife abuse and abuse of house staff was a notoriously regular way of life in many homes of the "locals". Cheating at every level was "par for the culture.
Severe and dreadful racial actions are part of the social fabric, and a form of slavery exists in virtually every area of this muslim state.
Many major crimes are ignored or "hidden", as this may make the Saudi locals " lose face " if the truth were ever to be made public.
Women in general, have few rights.
This is a most lawless nation that thrives, despite islamic laws.

  • 308.
  • At 11:32 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • H Godwin wrote:

I have never been comfortable with Muslims in my country. Their culture and sharia law are completely alien to us. They have no true intention of integrating; their aim is to colonise and remarks such as those by the Archbishop of Canterbury only help to furher this agenda. I wish these people no harm but I wish them elsewhere but in my land.

  • 309.
  • At 11:33 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • N.Eboma wrote:

I think Archbishop may be articulate in presenting ideas but in this issue he lacks wisdom. At the time of home grown islamic terrorists stretching our resources, to call for some aspects of islamic laws to be introduced is terribly wrong. Where islamic laws is dictated we have not seen progress in that societies, we read of more cries and injustice for women. In the coutries where islamic laws are implemented, they pour their money in terrorism and teaching of their religion rather than investing in science and development. How many noble price Islamic countries have won over the years? When you start introducing aspects of it, there will be demand for more, history tells us that. The British laws treat all as equalunder the laws, is far better system. Do not mess with it and introduce something you will not be able to control.

  • 310.
  • At 11:33 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Tom Collins wrote:


The Archbishop should really do what he is paid for - to promote Christianity. This means firstly, he should seek to expand his flock,secondly, stop their decreasing numbers and thirdly, if he really believes that our laws should be changed to incorporate Sharia law, he probably needs a long vacation !

  • 311.
  • At 11:33 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • ann wrote:

I'm really sorry that the debate on the Newsnight program developed into an emotive rant about Sharia. The only point worth making is that we should all be equal under the law. One law for everybody. If there are good bits of any legal sytem that will help provide justice and cohesion and have been approved by our well established democratic processes the we can incorporate them into British law for all of us. Anything else confuses me and, I suspect, most other people.

  • 312.
  • At 11:33 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Neil Foxlee wrote:

I have just watched the Newsnight debate involving Douglas Murray, the Director of the so-called "Centre for Social Cohesion", a right-leaning think tank. If Mr Murray's disgracefully inflammatory performance is anything to go by, it should be renamed the "Centre for Social Division".

Readers may be interested to know that Mr Murray's most recent book is "Neoconservatism: Why We Need It" (SAU, UK: Encounter Books, US), which caused historian Andrew Roberts to hail Murray as ‘The Right’s answer to Michael Moore,’ saying, 'This book shows how to fight and win the War on Terror.' Mr Roberts himself is a member of the Advisory Council of the Centre for Social Cohesion, as is Baroness Cox, who appeared earlier in the Newsnight programme, though her affiliation was not made clear.

The confrontation was set up to provide more heat than light, and was very badly handled by Jeremy Paxman. A sorry performance by the BBC, reflected in the trivialisation of this hugely sensitive issue in the "Sound of Music"-punning phrase "what are we going to do about sharia?". A sad reflection on the decline of journalistic values at the BBC.

  • 313.
  • At 11:34 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Aman Tariq wrote:

Shariah law i think has been mainly looked upon as bad and as some may even go as far to say EVIL. But the law is there just as any law, which is to have justice through out the land. PEACE. The meaning of islam. Shariah law is very much 'hands on' as in it deals with crimes such as stealing, murder, adultery ect.

For stealing you chop the hand they stole with, they cant steal again and will clearly be recognised as a theif. No criminal file needed.

Murder and adultery which are punishable by death are there to give a very big warning to stop others from doing it.

Crime is like a virus it spreads in numbers but by stamping out the virus straight away instead of wating for it to grow in prison cell, stops it from spreading.

Shariah law and Islam is there for giving peace and not everyone is peaceful. others may argue how is killing or chopping off hands peaceful? They would be completely right in saying so but what it does do is get rid of the things that disturb the peace.

But the punishments are not just it. Islam teaches to be forgiving, to be humble, to be respectful to people. And i heard in tonights newsnight that women were equal to half of men.
This really annoyed me because in islam the MOTHER a WOMAN of course is to be treated with the highest respect after God The list goes as so: 1. God
2. Mother
3. Mother
4. Mother
5. Father

So if any one can point out to me where that shows a Woman half equal to a man I will be impressed. And when you see men in turbans and scarfs and apparent 'MUSLIMS' shooting women or treating them like dirt. I can tell you that is not Shariah law,not Islam and i dont even think that they deserve the honour of being called a muslim and i would certainly not want a man like that to be known as my brother in Islam.

  • 314.
  • At 11:34 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Nadine wrote:

The Archbishop needs to stand down. His statement has proved him to be ignorant, ridiculous and irrelevant to the 21st century. I can't help wondering what he expects to gain by making such a statement, which he must have known would create enormous controversy.

Either he is a very stupid man, now extremely shocked at the reaction of Britain to his statement, or he is sinisterly trying to create a crusade-like anti-muslim zeal with his coments. I can't imagine why else the head of the Anglican church would suggest inserting another religion's laws into those that have developed out of a christian culture.

  • 315.
  • At 11:35 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mary Hudson wrote:

I watched Newsnight tonight and was inspired by the way Douglas Murray contributed his views to the programme. Typically the Bishop and he Muslim academic waffled on, even Paxman had problems controlling their rhetoric. I would like to see more of Murray as I am sure he represents the opinions of a large majority of the British poopulation.

  • 316.
  • At 11:35 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Michael Russell wrote:

Like the rest of the silent majority in the UK I am astonished at the comments made by the Archbishop.
Everyone in this Country should be subject to the same law-without exception.
It is inexcuseable to allow Muslims to impose their narrow vision on our society. As a gay man-professional and partnered I abhor the intolerance which their religion promotes.There are of course many muslims who live in the Uk and wish to truly integrate and this I respect.
We must not however pander to any narrow religous philosphy of whatever persuasion-thankfully European society has moved on.
The Archbishop should ideally resign or as a minimum explain his naive and misguided speech.
Michael Russell

  • 317.
  • At 11:35 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Earl wrote:

the Archbishop's is a servant to the crown and to the people of this Country he should not be able to make such decision and comments on what we should have or not surly it is the people of this country to make any decision to change the law or not?We have elected politicians to act for us not Dr Rowan Williams if it is point of view he should keep it to himself. Maybe we as the people of this country should ask that the government bring back treason law and public hanging de bowelment and drawn and quater see how he like tose sort of law.i say we stay with the present law we do not need or required a muslim state here and from what i am hearing if any of us christian go to any islamic country we have to conform to there laws so why should we change our law for the rest anyone i do not beleave we are being Islamophobic. i am proud to be british and prouw or our laws and was pepare to stand up for it what next ? we have been very tolerant but this is one Step too Far I am scared for us all if we decide to go give every one there own law where will we be next ? God Save the Queen and us her loyal subjects.

  • 318.
  • At 11:36 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • lee wrote:

Does English law recognise synagogue and mosque weddings and can somebody explain to me what sharia property law is all about because the bbc didn't

  • 319.
  • At 11:36 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Hanslick wrote:

Comment on #192

Jenny, you have hit the nail squarely on the head. When I heard the World at One interview I suspected that Dr Williams' real aim was to secure even more priviliges for religious groups within British society; having now had an opportunity to read the text of his lecture, I am now convinced of it.

The real mischief is that he has stirred up an entirely avoidable and largely specious furore over the application of Sharia law. On the other hand, this has given apologists for his views an opportunity to claim that any criticism arises from Islamophobia.

In view of this latest fiasco, surely it's time that Church of England was disestablished, that bishops were ejected from the House of Lords, and that the education of our children was taken out of the hands of faith schools of whatever religion or denomination.

  • 320.
  • At 11:36 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Irwin wrote:

I have never posted on something like this before, but after watching Questiontime last night, and now tonight's Newsnight, I feel I must point out that Andy Burnham MP, and the Bishop of Hulme are both in error - the Archbishop of Canterbury is most definitely NOT the spiritual leader of the UK. The Bishop may like to think so, but like so many of his fellow prelates, he lives in a world of medieval spiritual snobbishness and make-believe.

The Archbishop IS the spiritual leader of that spiritually and morally bankrupt institution called the Church of England, but thankfully the same institution does not represent the real Body of Christ in the UK, and he most certainly do not speak for me nor many of my contemporaries. When the Anglican Communion elected this limp-wristed Druid as their spiritual leader whatever respect many of us might have had for its supposed spiritual authority went out the window.

Quite frankly, the sooner he retires or resigns, the better it will be for all of us, especially the Christian Church in this nation. And the sooner this useless institution is disestablished, the sooner the real Church will be freed from the shackles that have undermined it for decades, if not centuries!

  • 321.
  • At 11:36 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Chris Bradburn wrote:

I do not see that belief in this or that supernatural being should have anything to do with the Laws of this country.

For one reason or another, perhaps to seek comfort, many people do believe in supernatural gods, but this should not exclude them from obeying the Laws of this land as all non-believers have to do.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has always seemed a well-meaning guy to me, but he is hopelessly out of touch with the general public in this country. He exemplifies why the majority of Britain's inhabitants and almost all young people find the Church of England quite irrelevant to their lives.

  • 322.
  • At 11:37 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

Not too many years ago I worked outside of the UK. My employer informed me that if I stayed within the laws of that country, no problem. However, if I was to step outside those laws,I was essentially on my own. Why, when people come to this country, do they think they can dictate and attempt to live outside of our laws? If someone comes to this country, they should live by the laws of this country. I believe that 50 years from now anyway, the laws will have changed, only because the religious bias will have changed, and as a consequence, so will the laws of this land. I am for living together, but I believe that those coming here should abide by our laws. Could I go to a foreign country and expect to change the laws there? I don't think so, do you??? I won't be here in 50 years so why should I care. Wrong attitude, we should all care because it will become our children's problem and their children's problem. Goodnight.

  • 323.
  • At 11:37 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • mark wrote:

im sick of hearing things must change for muslims. if its not one thing its something else. how much more have we to take. we are a westernised country and the law is good enough as it is. if people wish to live by this law, why do they not pack there bags and live in a country which administers this law, this country is begining to feel less and less British year by year, how much more have our beliefs values and tollerance got to be chucked back in our faces...

  • 324.
  • At 11:38 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Sue wrote:

As an elderly british woman. I have experienced sexism from some muslim men and I would not feel safe or want any sharia law in this country that would reinforce some muslim mens attitude to women.
I feel it would also be a step backwards for the young muslim women who have been brave enough to make a stand for themselves and had the backing of our laws!

  • 325.
  • At 11:39 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • martin miller wrote:

I spent almost 10 years working and living in Saudi Arabia, and witnessed a tremendously high level of crime from all types at all levels. Corruption was endemic in so many areas of life. Theft, such as daily shoplifting was very common. Young Saudis ( and older ones ) regularly broke all traffic laws. I was bribed ( attempted ) so many times by Saudi trainess, to pass ( and even , FAIL ) in course tests.
Drugs and alcohol consumtion was fairly common in so many Saudi households. Wife abuse and abuse of house staff was a notoriously regular way of life in many homes of the "locals". Cheating at every level was "par for the culture.
Severe and dreadful racial actions are part of the social fabric, and a form of slavery exists in virtually every area of this muslim state.
Many major crimes are ignored or "hidden", as this may make the Saudi locals " lose face " if the truth were ever to be made public.
Women in general, have few rights.
This is a most lawless nation that thrives, despite islamic laws.

  • 326.
  • At 11:39 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Derrick wrote:

Up to now I have been an admirer of Jeremy Paxman and enjoy his stimulating debates but tonight I felt that he went “beyond the pale” in his rudeness to the Oxford Professor, especially at the start of the discussion when he rudely and unnecessarily interrupted him while he was making his initial statement explaining Sharia law to us in relation to the Archbishop’s lecture. His untimely interjection to let Mr. Murray’s “rant” have an inordinate time and prominence lowered the debate from what could have been highly informing and productive to an un-intellectual “squabble”. It ended up so disappointing and wasteful.

  • 327.
  • At 11:39 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jenny wrote:

The question asked is has the reaction been Islamophobic? The answer is no. A phobia is an irrational fear. Those who oppose this suggestion from the Archbishop are able to cite evidence from The Koran and other Islamic scriptures and the way Sharia Law works in practice abroad. We've all seen through the smokescreen of crying "Islamophobia" to try to shut people up.

It seems perfectly reasonable for people to debate Western politics and Western religions and quote the Bible. If somebody is concerned at The Koran's saying: "Make war on the unbelievers and on the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate," then they should be allowed to say so. In this context I think "Islamophobia" is an oxymoron.

  • 328.
  • At 11:40 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Justin Robertson wrote:

Has the BBC's reaction to the Archbishop's Sharia law comments been idiotic?

For goodness' sake read the interview: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1573.

This is now typical BBC behaviour: reporting on itself and claiming an exclusive. They know perfectly well that a good percentage of their audience won't bother reading the transcript and so it's a home-made scoop.

And to make it appear a real dichotomy they wheel in the most right-wing of main stream politicians on Newsnight.

This is useless, cheap hackwork.

  • 329.
  • At 11:41 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jonboy wrote:

No I haven’t gone daft, I’m actually going to support the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Why? Because he is only raising issues which naturally arise when there are two million Muslims here. Such a sizeable group is entitled to have its religious beliefs respected.
If we didn’t like what would logically follow, we shouldn’t have allowed so much immigration in the first place.
Faced with this swamping, the Government is now coming up with dotty initiatives to try to salvage traditional British culture - citizenship classes, discussions of Britishness, daily raising the Union flag on Government buildings.
Alas, it now all looks like an unstoppable tide.
Brilliant, Blair and Brown. You’ve buggered Britain.

  • 330.
  • At 11:42 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • James Sharp wrote:

I believe the archbishop made a serious error in straying from his area of expertise. His chief role is to represent and proclaim the teaching of Jesus Christ and the theology and beliefs of the christian faith. Perhaps he was flattered by being invited to address a group of distinguished members of the legal profession. To have stressed the importance of Christian teaching and the contribution that Christianity had contributed to shaping our legal system and national values would in my view been a more appropriate approach to take. If he does not believe that Christian values and the teaching of Jesus Christ is sufficient to influence our laws then he should consider his position and claims to be a disciple of Christ.

We do not require a multicultural society that seeks to appease everyone and has no clear message and values for our nation.
History is littered with accounts of nations that abandoned its moral and religious values and then found themself in decline.

As a theologian he should be aware of the account of the decline morally, politcally and economically of Israel when it abandoned its religious and moral values. At the end of the book of Judges in the Old Testament the decline of Israel is attributed to the fact that 'everybody did that which was right in their own eyes.' The preceding chapters refer to the polytheism and multiculturalism of the Jews at this point in their history.

Multiculturalism results in a diminution of important principles, a loss of identity and a lack of clear direction within a nation.

The archbishop of the Anglican Church should promte its Christian teaching and ensure that this is his prime focus and priority.

  • 331.
  • At 11:43 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Velma Lyrae wrote:

What motive does the Arch Bishop of Canterbury have by trying to get us to adopt Muslim (Sharia) law? Perhaps he is indebted to Muslims (the 16,000 3G Masts placed in Churches all around England are paid for by Muslim Brothers of Tchenguiz family). The Masts cost the Tchenguiz family £1,898,141 in 2002 alone (Company House). They don't require repaying apparently. Or do they?

  • 332.
  • At 11:43 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • rwylie wrote:

laugh a minute, at the folks who are complaining about things like
"If you want to live in Britain, then you need to live by British laws! There shouldn't be any special treatment for anyone."

oh ok so we dont have all the EU laws imposed on us ?
and no special treatment for MPs who sidestep embezzlement laws ( allegedly)

massive downturn in church attendance, we the christians....

do something about it !! vote. go to church to support your great christian beliefs.
or if you dont, then dont sit there and complain about the barbarians at the gate, effete ones.

  • 333.
  • At 11:43 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • The Cole Family wrote:

Am amazed this is even being given the time of day. We are appalled and outraged as, if we were in Iran we would have to abide by their law ie the Sharia Law, but we are not. If people from other cultures and faiths wish to live here then they should have the respect to abide by our laws and give our Christian religion the respect they demand for theirs. The Archbishop is supposedly a Christian, he should certainly not be promoting other religions but preaching about tolerance. He is a disgrace to the Christian Religion and to the whole of our Christian country we live in. He should resign as should all clergy who support his view. To all the people who wish for Sharia law, they should go to a country that promotes and recognises it. We as a family have always been very accepting of other faiths and cultures. This is a step too far. We realise that we have to focus on our own culture and heritage because if the indigenous population don't,it will disappear forever. This is a sad,sad day for evryone in this country.

From the disillusioned Cole Family.

  • 334.
  • At 11:43 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Hanslick wrote:

Comment on #198

Much as some of us might wish to see the back of them, I believe that Dr Williams and the Bishop of Hulme are English and don't have any other country to go back to.

  • 335.
  • At 11:44 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Angela wrote:

See comment 197. British law which is so fair and precious is based on Christian principles. So let's look at what that Christianity has to say.Does anyone else remember a Methodist (I think from their Moderating Council or whatever it is) speaking on Radio 4 a few years ago about an experience he had had when praying during a Council session? He was so taken aback he was anxious to share it at national level. I suspect it was only broadcast on 'Sunday' rather than the Today prog. He was shown a vision of England in the future as an Islamic state. He asked Jesus how that could be and the Lord replied "It will come about because my people are not ready." I have never forgotten how shocking it was to hear a man of integrity speaking in quiet measured tones about something so frightening. Today's huge reaction isn't racist - it is against any possibility that a system that has barbaric aspects should be given a toe-hold in our beloved land. A previous comment (before no 100 I think) quoted from 1 Corinthians 13 and said that love is the answer. Yes it is , but part of love is correcting error. Jesus answered people who advocated the old law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (which in itself had been an amelioration of what went before) with the command to love your enemies and do good to those who hate you. These are the principles on which British law is founded and for which we must stand.

  • 336.
  • At 11:44 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jon Ackroyd wrote:

I cant believe that so many people have missed the point on this! I didnt feel Jeremy gave the archbishops argument a serious chance and handled the debate unfairly impinging on the Islamic Scholar.

I dont want sharia law in the UK. I believe a single british legal system.

BUT this wasnt the point! Williams is pointing to the fact that we live in a multi faith society which is being incresingly divided by fear the hate and fear stoked by extremists, governments and the media witch hunt!

He was talking about the similarities that exist and ways in which we can look to engage based on similar issues and reject exteme views (unequal womens rights, chopping hand, death etc).

The media (including Paxo) has again responded with a knee jerk reaction rather than presenting a more balanced, complex and accurate picture of these issues. I feel This breading of hate and anger is only leading to more division and hatred. If i was a moderate Muslim in the UK i would feel threatened.

Williams was doing his job to promote peace and interaction between communities and reject the extremists and the government twisted words.

Newsnight as a public broadcaster should work harder to present an intelligent discussion. Paxo and guests need to engage with reasonably and with RESPECT rather than act like a LYNCH MOB calling for Williams resignation.

PS
I cant believe Douglas Murray is a director at the the 'Centre for Social Cohesion' - he would be more appropriate at the 'Centre for Social SEGREGATION'... came across as a very angry man and pretty unpleasant man...

  • 337.
  • At 11:44 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mike Phillips wrote:

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||. in my heyday, you might revisit that interview and tell me where you could have done better

  • 338.
  • At 11:45 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • john wrote:

Jews have maintained for well over a thousand years that the Law of the land is the Law. Britain must demand that Muslims follow that road. If they don't like it, there is a simple expedient: a one way ticket back home or to the Muslim state of their choice. And they pay for it. No handouts. The Muslims who leave can be replace by any number of Christians from Latin America or Africa.

  • 339.
  • At 11:45 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mighty Slug wrote:

What motive does the Arch Bishop of Canterbury have by trying to get us to adopt Muslim (Sharia) law? Perhaps he is indebted to Muslims (the 16,000 3G Masts placed in Churches all around England are paid for by Muslim Brothers of Tchenguiz family). The Masts cost the Tchenguiz family £1,898,141 in 2002 alone (Company House). They don't require repaying apparently. Or do they?

  • 340.
  • At 11:45 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Rose wrote:

Tariq Ramadan is either lying or is not such an expert on Islam as he claims to be. He said that under Islam everyone is equal. Was he counting that this is a good propaganda and nobody will detect the untruth? If somebody brings a Bible to Saudi Arabia he will find himself in prison. Not to mention the endless laws which treat Chrisitians and Jews as "dhimis" second class citizens who are only tolerated if they pay a special tax, called Jizya, and act in total submission to Muslims. In Sharia courts the evidence of a Moslem is considered superior to that of a non-Muslim.

Big lies are routinely used by Islamists to confuse and mislead the public in the West. Jeremy Paxman should have challenged Ramadhan when he made the statement that all are equal under Islam.

  • 341.
  • At 11:45 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • desmond palmer wrote:


The Archbishop has two characteristics that qualify him to talk about Sharia law - he is male and he has a beard.

He should resign immediately. He has never defended the Christian faith

  • 342.
  • At 11:46 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Claire K. wrote:

Would Muslims ever entertain the suggestion of implementing Christian law in Pakistan, for example, where there are a number of ethnic Christians who may prefer to be considered in non-Islamic terms? Of course not, it's a Muslim country and that's the law of the land regardless of however many minorites happen to also live there.

They can't have it both ways though and Sharia law has no business in Britain, not now, not ever!

  • 343.
  • At 11:46 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Khalid Ahmad wrote:

The mere mention of sharia law evokes an islamophobic reaction. people are taking archbishops remarks in very negative manner.
what the archbishop suggested was to incorporate certain aspects of sharia law into british law. all systems, however good and robust need changing from time to time. if the archbishop finds something good and useful in sharia law and suggests incorporating it in british law there is nothing wrong with it.the aspects of personal law which he mentions are practiced and accepted by muslim community anyway. he just suggestted some kind of acceptance of that by the british law. no one suggested a parallel system.

  • 344.
  • At 11:47 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • desmond palmer wrote:

The Archbishop has two characteristics that qualify him to talk about Sharia law - he is male and he has a beard.

He should resign immediately. He has never defended the Christian faith

  • 345.
  • At 11:47 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Rifat Wahhab wrote:

We should move away from ill-informed debates about what is Sharia law. Commentators misquote Islam, which is more of an expression of Islamophobia. The overwhelming majority of British Muslims are law-abiding citizens who have earned their rightful place in British society and are happy to live under British law

Also, let us remember that the most Muslims live in nations that are secular, even where there may be a majority of Muslims, and do not follow Sharia law, for example, Bangladesh.

What is dangerous is if ill-informed but powerful commentators assume that Sharia law is the ideal being demanded by all Muslims. This misrepresentation is damaging.

The continuous misrepresntaion of Islam is making it hard for decent law-abiding Muslim cisitzens to be accepted for what they are. This is a great pity because British Muslims have made and continue to make a substantial contribution to British society

  • 346.
  • At 11:47 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Inspector Clouseau wrote:

After watching the programme I feel it is necessary to make another comment:

Mr Murray was terrible. Judging by his aggressive attitude, his refusal to listen to - let alone absorb - what others were trying to say, and his warped facial gestures, he could have been a BNP representative.

The discussion was not civil, and though Mr Ramadan tried to be reasonable no light was shed on the matter at all.

  • 347.
  • At 11:48 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Celia Herbert wrote:

It seems not even the Archbishop of Canterbury will put the feelings of the ordinary Brit above his wish to pander to the wishes of the Moslems. Our fathers fought for this country and ALL it stands for but we have been invaded anyway. We see our cities overtaken, our heretage and culture eroded before our eyes. So okay they are here now. Best of luck to them, no one wants to hurt their feelings but please don't take any more liberties-our patience is running out. And Mr Williams, resign. You let us down.
stands for

  • 348.
  • At 11:48 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Pam Ingram wrote:

I think it unlikely the archbishop was being intentially Islamophobic. I genuinely think he was trying to introduce a debate. He has been successful in that! Perhaps more successful than he would like. He does however have a point. Whilst there are many Muslims in this country who do not want to live under Sharia law. It may be one of the reasons they came here but there are some who think they should be entitled to bring it with them for some reason. NO! I, by the way, am native white female English Christian (occasionally practicing), but I hope this doesn't mean that my opinions are less valid

I watched the Newsnight programme tonight, and I'm afraid that to me it seemed that the Muslim representative who got so irate about Paxman "not allowing" him to answer (even though he never did actually answer the question clearly) was very eager to shout down his adversary. An adversary, I have to say, who was not trying to shout him down. It's that sort of behaviour which causes "Islamaphobia", and not some genetic defect in the general public.

I think the press have predictably overeacted because this is what sells papers. I don't think the archbishop was being "Islamophobic", neither do I think that he is a bumbling old buffoon like the US presidents we are accustomed to. He had his reasons. He may have made a mistake, but I don't think so. I think it's time we had this out in the open!

It was only on Tuesday this week that I said to my boss at work that I was concerned to learn that Sharia law is already practiced in this country. Then I found out that it's really just used as an appendix to British law and as long as it is a subsiduary of British law and not superior to it I have no more objection to it that I do to the Jewish courts. As far as I am concerned, Sharia law can take place as long as it does not contravene British law. So for instance if Sharia law says that a man must say "I divorce thee" in order fro a divorce to take place, then they are welcome to do that as long as British lawy is also satisfied the divorce is valid by the due process of British law.

I think the reason so many are concerned though is that it's very clear from the actions of fanatical muslims that there is an extreme minority which wishes to force its views on the rest of society, Muslim or not. It is that minority of which we are all quite justifiably afraid. And it's no good pretending that we're being "Islamophobic" in that just because these people claim to live by the laws of Islam. They are the same people who practice religious laws which are unacceptable in this country and it is those laws we are afraid of.

I believe that until British Muslims are seen to publicly unite and renounce the extremists then suspicion will abound Muslims will not be fully accepted. The British Muslim council just won't do because we believe them to be political pawns on the make. We would like the real Muslim population to stand up and be counted in this. We have reason to be afraid. We do not want another culture forcing its laws upon us because obviously that will erode our culture and our society. In modern vernacular, that is what is called a no-brainer! If they have their own rules and stuff then as long as it's voluntary and subsidiary I do not see a problem. But if someone comes to me and tells me that's how I have to live my life because then it's possible that I might start to get angry too and I think I speak for many. I also believe this is one of the most tolerant societies in the world (for all of the harsh shrieking of "Islamaphobe!"), but quite rightly there are limits. It's not Islamophobia but we would like to keep out own culture thanks - you know, the one most of us we were brought up with. I'm sorry to say that the definining argument in most people's hearts and minds (and mine too) still is "well it's our law, you came here so live by it and if you don't like it then you know what you can do!". More politely put, this would read "You're welcome to stay, but you have to live by our rules!"

What is so wrong with that? That is not a part of our cluture that I want to change. Our Queen has in the past honoured the customs of other cultures wherever she goes. It is not unreasonable that we expect visitors long or short term to our shores to honour ours.

  • 349.
  • At 11:48 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Rifat Wahhab wrote:

We should move away from ill-informed debates about what is Sharia law. Commentators misquote Islam, which is more of an expression of Islamophobia. The overwhelming majority of British Muslims are law-abiding citizens who have earned their rightful place in British society and are happy to live under British law

Also, let us remember that the most Muslims live in nations that are secular, even where there may be a majority of Muslims, and do not follow Sharia law, for example, Bangladesh.

What is dangerous is if ill-informed but powerful commentators assume that Sharia law is the ideal being demanded by all Muslims. This misrepresentation is damaging.

The continuous misrepresntaion of Islam is making it hard for decent law-abiding Muslim cisitzens to be accepted for what they are. This is a great pity because British Muslims have made and continue to make a substantial contribution to British society

  • 350.
  • At 11:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • richard denton wrote:

How do you solve a problem like Sharia? Thank you Jeremy that was sublime. Tariq tried to make the point that there are many versions of shariah and that we are emphasising the worst - but that is the problem, there ARE many variations but no structured and accepted authority to ensure that the most benign are followed. While "benign" interpretations cannot be guaranteed, there should be no experiments that might subject "volunteers" to the judgements of shariah courts. Rowan has once again, sadly but not surprisingly, shown himself naive and foolish

  • 351.
  • At 11:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ken Houghton wrote:

I have just watched the Newsnight debate which I hoped would throw some light on the matter and result in an intelligent discussion.
At first I was not disappointed, the two anglican clergy were allowed to present their opposing views and did so with mutual respect.
However, when the muslim academic and Mr Muuray entered the fray things became very different. Muuray was allowed his anti-Islamic rant almost uninterupted and to talk over his opponent at will. THe treatment of the muslim was entirely different: he was not allowed to answer questions which do not admit of a simple answer in other than simpolistic terms. '... ANSWER YES OR NO' was the almost bullying tone of Paxman in his prosecuiting barrister mode.
I think Paxman handled this part of the interview disgrcefully in both allowing a one sided discussion, colluding with a bully and in failing to extract from the muslim professor information which might have enlightened the debate.
Incidently, I am a secularist and would not choose any faith court as an arbiter in law, but would not seek to prevent others doing so provided all parties are willing and that such arbitration is subject to the common law.

  • 352.
  • At 11:49 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jon seal wrote:

First point, why have a man who claims to represent social cohesion, but is actually more like an ignorant rabble rouser involved in the discussion? Couldn't a more intelligent representative be found?

Secondly, having spoken with friends of many faiths today, its been interesting to gauge the response. Three jewish friends, all point to the 'court of deputies' which oversee things through the issues of jewish law - acknowledged by the 'british law' as their are able to advocate for jews.
Muslim friends believe the media representation is simply a diliberate misunderstanding of their laws, at worst to stir up the radical and fanatical elements of their communities to beyond a point where the moderates can control them.

I'm a Christian, my background - being the son of minister - might suggest a bias here, but several of my friends of other faiths have asked the question "Why is Britain so scared of calling it self a Christian country?" particularly when in Christianity other faiths are accepted and acknowledged on their own merits. Other countries around the world happily state themselves to be Muslim, Hindu or Sikh dominated countries, Israel can claim to be a predominantly Jewish country and yet we can't say we're a Christian country?

The assumption on this debate seems to be that the Archbishop is "sticking his nose" into other faiths, however it seems more likely by the response that his point is increasingly valid, if not why would there be such a huge response?

The pope's quotes about islam, taken from an ancient text, were also misquoted and attacked, the arguement vanished very quickly because he's the Pope.

The Irony is, people who do not claim to be interested in religion in any way, who only think about church at Easter and Christmas, if only because of the school holidays around these times, are suddenly hugely scandalised by the comments of the head of a Church they fail to acknowledge and rarely even notice.

(Christianity - mocked and ridiculed when it's quiet and assaulted and slandered when it raises a head above the parapet...is it possible to be a Christian in Britain? Or we the only religion in the world that has to keep its mouth shut? Remember, how many Church of England radicals can you name? Less than those of any other opinion)

  • 353.
  • At 11:51 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Eastwood wrote:

The Archbishop would have been gratified this morning to have heard six naked men in the changing rooms discussing his comments on Sharia law.Amongst the swimmers was a Moslem, a Christian, a lapsed Christian,an Atheist andtwo Agnostics all debating the issues surrounding the practice of Sharia law in this country. The Moslem said quite categorically that Moslems should accept and obey the law of this country. A retired policeman said that Sharia law was already being practiced citing a child protection issue in Manchester where police had been informed by school teachers that they found several Muslim boys covered in bruises. When the Head Teacher spoke to the parents of these boys he was told and subsequently the police were also told that they were beaten to make the boys learn the Koran. This is what the parents parents had done to them and was acceptable in Sharia law. The matter was ignored by the police being considered too delicate a matter and not politically correct to charge these Muslim parents.

  • 354.
  • At 11:51 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Jason Morris wrote:

"I also call on the BBC to stop giving a voice to proponents of radical Muslim agendas."

Clearly you didn't watch tonight's programme. The (far from extremist) Muslim representative didn't even get a chance to speak, he was completely shouted down by the Richard Littlejohn character. I am completely agnostic, but I wanted to hear a rational, adult debate. What I saw instead was a complete farce. It was like watching The Sun on television.

  • 355.
  • At 11:51 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Eastwood wrote:

The Archbishop would have been gratified this morning to have heard six naked men in the changing rooms discussing his comments on Sharia law.Amongst the swimmers was a Moslem, a Christian, a lapsed Christian,an Atheist andtwo Agnostics all debating the issues surrounding the practice of Sharia law in this country. The Moslem said quite categorically that Moslems should accept and obey the law of this country. A retired policeman said that Sharia law was already being practiced citing a child protection issue in Manchester where police had been informed by school teachers that they found several Muslim boys covered in bruises. When the Head Teacher spoke to the parents of these boys he was told and subsequently the police were also told that they were beaten to make the boys learn the Koran. This is what the parents parents had done to them and was acceptable in Sharia law. The matter was ignored by the police being considered too delicate a matter and not politically correct to charge these Muslim parents.

  • 356.
  • At 11:52 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ron wrote:

I feel it's unfair to single out Islam. Any form of so called God given law has the potential to be undemocratic and discriminatory because of it's inflexibility and inability to adapt to change.

There has never been,to my knowledge, a free society where clerics have ruled directly or had power over politicians.

Even as late as the mid twentieth century the church in Eire was exercising undue influence. Young women were being tortured in the Magdelene Laundries in that country and politicians were powerless to help them for fear of the priesthood.

Even more recently we saw Blair and Bush claiming to having sought and taken exra terrestial advice before invading Iraq.

We should all be very wary of any religious involvement in politics and or law.Given the recent history of Islamic countries I would guess that many thinking Muslims will feel the same as I do.

  • 357.
  • At 11:53 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ian Harris wrote:

After watching Newsnight I am incensed at the naivety of the Archbishop in underestimating the reaction to his lecture. It confirms that his role as Head of the Church of England should be questioned, perhaps the benefits of his intellect would be better suited in another role. As Head of the Church he should be more proactive in upholding Christian values and teaching and protecting a bible based legal system

  • 358.
  • At 11:54 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

#204 - sued

Some time back I posted in another BBC blog an arguement that those of us who do not have faith do have the right to be treated with respect and that the assumption that we may not be believers does not exclude us from the status of decent human beings. It was not published.

In the unlikely event that this is, I wish you fulfillment in your partnership, joy in your ongoing life but, above all, the freedom to enjoy it as you wish to and not as others want you to.

  • 359.
  • At 11:54 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Nick Beacham-Watts wrote:

For me this is less about Muslims, Sharia or indeed religon; rather it is about the absurdity of the poposition, that multiculturalisum is a desirable condition. To state that diversity of culture/religon is a good and that you can be British whatever your culture religon or language is an absurdity. It has meant that tens of thousands of non indigenous people parade their Britishnes as if they (because of their 'diversity') bring to 'it' an added value. As if they are more deserving and worthy than indigenous Brits. Let them all live under one Law, devoid of competing legal codes, or leave.

  • 360.
  • At 11:54 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • jhill wrote:

One thing which has been quite instructive after the furore the archbishop caused was the reaction of the "establishment" media.
They "consulted" muslim clerics, concentrating once again on their views.
Perhaps they should take note of the literally thousands of people who have e-mailed and telephoned in to express their outrage that, once again, this religious entity in our midst, which propogates violence in its mosques and has extremist adherants that have actually killed people in bomb outrages, is once again being "understood" by the media.
Since 7/7, there has been a lot of politically correct "understanding" of the views of the muslim community. This "understanding" has not had any effect on a religion committed it seems to staying separate from British society.
Dr Williams has probably put back the cause of the muslim community by 10 years.
Perhaps if the BBC at least for a change reflected, just this once, the outrage of British (non muslim)citizens of this secular nation it would be a small victory for common sense.
People have watched for 30 yrs the encroachment of political correctness which has studiously avoided the customs of the majority British population, and concentrated on "not giving offence" to an alien minority.
This minority has taken full advantage of this and carried on as though living in a separate country, pushing the envelope as far as it can to try to always get its way. By insisting that it should be shown excessive respect, it has caused politicians at least to give in to continuous pressure.
Respect is a two way street, and it is time that this minority started showing a little of it to the customs of the host community.

One of the examples of how representatives of the muslim cause behave was exhibited on Newsnight tonight, when the muslim participant shouted down all opinions with which he did not agree.If this behaviour is typical of this minority, we must not cave in on civil law.
Perhaps it is time to ignore their views for a while.
We are a nation of tolerance free speech and the rule of law. However when this free speech is condemned as "islamophobia", it is time to perhaps take a different view of what islamic objectives are.
We have our civil law. Either this religion should acknowledge this, or choose a country more in line with their views and lifestyle!If they truly wish to be part of British society, they could make a start by "respecting" our way of life and cease trying to undermine our long cherished principles.
If they managed to do this, perhaps their culture has a future here.
It will be an uphill battle though, as the European Court of Justice has already ruled regarding their incompatibility with modern European law!

  • 361.
  • At 11:55 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Irene wrote:

The real issue is the inability of Muslims assimilating into their adopted country. The Archbishop has touched on aiding the assimilation process in this country by adopting certain aspects of Sharia law.

In Islamic countries where the Sharia law is the defining justice system it is used to differing degrees based on their interpretation of it.

Let’s compare a choice- a decision to change faiths, apostasy. For example, say you were a Muslim who decides to covert to Christianity.

In an extreme Muslim country such as Saudi Arabia- the justice system would condemn you to death.

In a moderate Muslim country such as Egypt- the justice system refuses to accept conversions from Islam- only to Islam. (Professor Ramadan quotes Egypt's Mufti for allowing conversions to take place, but the below link to a recent court's decision tells a different aspect to how Sharia law is actually put into practice)
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/egyptian.court.dismisses.case.to.recognise.religious.conversion/16643.htm

Hence, you would have to live in hiding for fear of persons targeting you and you family.

In the United Kingdom, you would not need to go to court to change your religion.

There is a very real difference between the Sharia law being practiced in different countries based on interpretation. That is very dangerous waters when laws are not clearly defined.

The question should not be, should the laws of the adopted country adapt to Muslims- but how Muslims can adapt to the country?

If the role model that Islamic countries and their laws have set, cannot be clearly defined and do not meet the humanitarian standards, then how can the Sharia laws be adopted?

How can Muslims coexist harmoniously with others of differing faith in British society, if it is not possible to do so in Islamic societies?

Start at the roots first, and the branches will respond.

  • 362.
  • At 11:55 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Islander wrote:

There is freedom of speech in this country, therefore everybody has the right to express their opinion, regardless of their religion. Why an atheist person's views should be more valid than others; afterall atheism is a kind of religion too.

The Archbishop is an intelligent man; the interpretation of the media fulfills its aim to stir up emotions and create sensational news regardless of the facts (what was said in what context).

  • 363.
  • At 11:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Roger Catchpole wrote:

I am increasingly surprised that anyone with any sensitivity and intelligence is prepared to put them selves forward for a leadership position in this country. By attempting to be thought provoking about such a complex and important issue the Archbishop has it seems come face to face with the inability of many people and much of the media to represent truly what has been said or written, and not to exaggerate or sensationalise. These are failings in our society that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The daily media circus is in danger of killing off our ability to take in information without prejudice and to hold a discourse which is just and likely to have any valuable outcome. I can well understand the shock of realisation that this is the case, that the Archbishop must be feeling.

  • 364.
  • At 11:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Abs2ray wrote:

A lot of the comments here are quite frankly islamaphobic, a typical example being msg 197 posted by Ms Burgess. What do you know about Sharia missus?

I can almost guarantee that she and most of the commentators here know very little about Sharia, yet still they feel compel to critise the system.

Sharia certainly offers more effective and just rullings on matters such as divorce, inheritance, social responsibility, criminal law etc.than any western legal systems. I suggest people read about the basics of Sharia before joining the anti islamic bandwagon. Sadly too much hating not enough loving in here.

I am only young but i can imagine how the jews must have felt in nthe 40s.

  • 365.
  • At 11:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • john wrote:

I am a British citisen and find this whole debate very worrying. I come from a belief that everyone is equal under the law… the British law.
I’ve seen enough programs regarding this to know that it will put this country back in the dark ages for women’s rights and as a society.
If you give an inch they’ll take a mile. Just think how politicians do this kind of thing with our law and before long its implemented.ie Going not from just sharia civil matters but leading eventually to crime and punishment. What will happen if they’re disputes between Muslims and non Muslims which legal system will be used? Also if you enter a Muslim area will you as a non Muslim be under sharia law?? This is exactly why there should be no room for maneuver on this matter. British law for all of us!!!
No wonder people say if you don’t like it here move back. It’s because the people who want sharia law who also in fact run Islamic courts here weren’t born here but have come from abroad to live in this country from places such as Pakistan.
A number of programs have shown that the Muslim council of Britain are pushing for this and they are using every means they have including using others of different faiths.
Sharia law is entirely up to the judges and their understanding of it, they’re interpretation can be whatever they think, It’s not written! Therefore a recipe for disaster!!
I have also read the Koran and its disturbing what’s in it! From how women are worth half of men to how ‘non Believers’ are viewed and should be treated. This is the true route of all evils!! If only you knew!!!
Britain, stand up for what you believe in. Equal rights, humanity and tolerance and but the most important thing of all is brutishness, let no one mess with that!

  • 366.
  • At 11:56 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • john wrote:

I am a British citisen and find this whole debate very worrying. I come from a belief that everyone is equal under the law… the British law.
I’ve seen enough programs regarding this to know that it will put this country back in the dark ages for women’s rights and as a society.
If you give an inch they’ll take a mile. Just think how politicians do this kind of thing with our law and before long its implemented.ie Going not from just sharia civil matters but leading eventually to crime and punishment. What will happen if they’re disputes between Muslims and non Muslims which legal system will be used? Also if you enter a Muslim area will you as a non Muslim be under sharia law?? This is exactly why there should be no room for maneuver on this matter. British law for all of us!!!
No wonder people say if you don’t like it here move back. It’s because the people who want sharia law who also in fact run Islamic courts here weren’t born here but have come from abroad to live in this country from places such as Pakistan.
A number of programs have shown that the Muslim council of Britain are pushing for this and they are using every means they have including using others of different faiths.
Sharia law is entirely up to the judges and their understanding of it, they’re interpretation can be whatever they think, It’s not written! Therefore a recipe for disaster!!
I have also read the Koran and its disturbing what’s in it! From how women are worth half of men to how ‘non Believers’ are viewed and should be treated. This is the true route of all evils!! If only you knew!!!
Britain, stand up for what you believe in. Equal rights, humanity and tolerance and but the most important thing of all is britishness, let no one mess with that!

  • 367.
  • At 11:57 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Celia Herbert wrote:

Well done Mr Murry. I agree with every word you were allowed to say and feel betrayed, hurt and let down by our Archbishop. If he is such a thinker, perhaps he should have thought a little longer before he wrote his paper. Yes we understood it, even though it was masked behind an intellectual screen.

  • 368.
  • At 11:58 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • David wrote:

sued has it entirely right. This a secular society, its law is secular, and so it should remain. Religion should be kept entirely separate as a matter only for consenting adults in private.

The great problem is people who are not adult enough to understand that thoughts and criticisms about their beliefs are not thereby personal insults. Unfortunately in my experience this tendency to personal anger at those who disagree with their religious beliefs seems particularly strong amongst Muslims - the words of the prophet in the Quoran about unbelievers are pretty unequivocal of course.

The fact is that one cannot reason with unreason. We should not try to do so, but simply fight to maintain a complete separation between state and religion. The Enlightement was a great human achievement and we should fight to protect it.

The "respect" laws about faith and self-proclaimed "defenders of faith" make rational discussion harder of course.


  • 369.
  • At 11:58 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Phil wrote:

To Imam (233)...

There should be no religious courts, full stop. The Archbishop may be a moderate thoughtful man, but the system he is talking about - sharia law - is anything but. As I understand it, sharia's "family" matters (the bits which he is suggesting we introduce) treat women as inferior, insist that muslims marry only muslims, and are hardline anti-gay. Sorry but these views belong in the dark ages, and should stay there. And, yes, some Christian extremists (not the Archbishop) have similar views, and they too should not be allowed to run courts.

  • 370.
  • At 11:58 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • David wrote:

I've just seen the Newsnight debate with Mr Ramadan trying to shout down other contributors and accusing critics of 'Islamophobia'. He has probably recruited a few thousand more 'Islamophobics' by his rudeness and agressiveness . His performance notwithstanding, it does seem increasingly that we may be quite right to be 'Islamophobic'. We clearly have everything to fear from a religion and culture determined to advance its domgmas and force its values on the enclaves of our cities and towns it now controls, while at the same time asserting that Sharia Law derives from a higher authority than British law.The Archbishop has really touched the raw nerve- reasonable people are becoming seriously worried about the direction our society is being taken by Nulabour's PC agenda and the 'accommodation' being continually offered to the most illiberal and intolerant faith on earth. The spontaneous reaction - not generated by newspapers-is very healthy and perhaps it will force our complacent politicians to recognise the depth of public feeling building on these issues.What is so worrying is that so few commentators dare speak out -they have had their hands tied and their mouths stopped by legislation and the positive discrimination culture in favour of minorities -introduced with the best intentions but now being used to subvert opposition to the creeping Islamification of our cities and our institutions. Coupled with this, the BBC and the Audiovisual media have been reluctant to tread on sensitive ground for far too long. So please - this is not a 'fascist' debate or a 'racist' debate -those concened are not'phobics' or mentally ill- these smearing insults are just devious methods of avoiding the issues causing the conerns!It is quite simply about the wholesale cultural colonisation of parts of Britain by Islam.This is not alarmist -it is a fact!It is about groups who do not want to make concessions , do not want to integrate, will not accept a secular world but rather are guided by their religious dogmas in their every action. Moreover, not content with the freedom granted to practice their faith,( a freedom not granted by Islamic states to Christians of course) they wish to extend, expand and convert the world around them.This affects the lives of others who do not share their religion but increasingly cannot avoid its messages in terms of social attitudes, dress, religious buildings and we are told now the amplified call to prayer.Conformist pressure also prevents those within Islamic communities from integrating or changing their lives if they wish to do so -principally women. We should be proud of our secular state and we need some red lines around its laws and politicians with the courage to stand by them.The Archbishop is wrong to challenge the settlement between Church and State which guarantees the secular nature of our law and he is wrong to suggest that those who don't share the values of this state should be accommodated by adapting the principles of universality by making concessions to medieval religious law.He is deeply mistaken when he challenges the validity of the 'enlightenment' to all mankind. It is totally amazing that Williams did not understand the sacrosanct nature of the principles he was challenging and astonishing that he was astonished at the reaction he has caused.

  • 371.
  • At 11:59 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Pam Jenkins wrote:

I found the whole interview very worrying. I didn't feel that fair muslims were being allowed to be heard. I felt like the unfortunately interpreted remarks were being used as fuel on a fire which so many people are trying hard to move on from. I felt very infuriated

  • 372.
  • At 12:00 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Martin M wrote:

Salaam Alaikum

There, that's got everybody going hasn't it? No I'm not a Muslim, but a midddle aged Conservative Party member from Cheltenham. Leaving aside the arguments over Sharia, I am apalled at the reactions that Rowan William's comments have provoked. I suspect the Archbishop is deeply upset that he appears to have unleashed a tide of what can only be described as Islamophobic bile from all quarters. We should be ashamed of ourselves - and that includes you, Jeremy, after your performance tonight.

  • 373.
  • At 12:00 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • patricia wrote:

If you live in a country you must accept its laws. If you do not accept them then you should leave this country to live in a country in which the laws you are prepared to accept are already in place. How would sharia law deal with a leader in the archbishops position making such suggestions? From what I can see he would be dealt with harshly. How would a sharia court headed by for example Abu Hamza deal with the 7/7 bombers or any other terrorists? From what I can see they would not be dealt with harshly but praised and rewarded.

The archbishop should resign and the government should face up to the concerns of the population it is supposed to serve.

And for the liberals amoung you and before you suggest I am a member of the BNP I am a lawyer, a tax payer and the child of Irish immigrants who respected the country to which they moved and it's laws.

  • 374.
  • At 12:01 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Tazim wrote:

The Archbishop's comments have been miscontrued and been taken out of context. The only purpose they have served is to fuel Islamophobic sentiments.
I for one am a muslim, and have constant debates with my fellow muslims in this country. Not one of these debates have included anybody wishing for any tenet of Sharia Law to be adopted into the British Legal system. Most muslims that I know are perfectly happy to live within the laws of this land; and are not asking for separate Sharia laws to be implemented either wholesale or in any supplementary form.

  • 375.
  • At 12:01 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Harriet Cullen wrote:

I normally enjoy the robust style of debate on Newsnight, but tonight I was horrified by the shrill, exonophobic and confrontational tone of the discussion about the Archbiship of Canterbury's proposals about Sharia law, which seemed to be encouraged by Jeremy Paxman. As a UK citizen I have a deep respect for the equality of all under UK law. But I felt that despite the efforts of the Bishop of Hulme to make himself heard, there was practically no discussion about any detail of the Sharia laws which might be relevant to life in modern Britain, why and how etc. Surely most of Newsnight watchers, like everyone else not directly concerned, are quite ignorant about this, and how some religious laws might be applied to resolve family issues, although ultimately subject to British law, as they are in Jewish communities. Why did Jeremy Paxman not open up the discussion more to specifics of Sharia law that the Archbishop had in mind? He only implied the worst by showing clips of ritual floggings etc.

  • 376.
  • At 12:02 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Don Head wrote:

Some reaction to the Archbishop's lecture are extreme and potentially islamophobic. Even when they fall short of this, much of the comment appears to create divisions and divide society rather than build up a national identity which embraces our persaonal individuality and varied cultural backgrounds and beliefs.

What the Archbishop is saying, it seems to me, is that Moslems would like to settle marital and civil disputes by reconcilliation in accordance with the Koran and that we should explore ways in which this may be achieved, where both parties to disputes are willing to be subject to a Sharia approach. The problems to this are considerable, not least the position of women and the possibility that pressure might be brought to bear on vulnerable people to elect for a Sharia approach when without such pressure they would chose not to use this.

One could criticise the Archbishop on the grounds that he is falling into the "liberal trap" of trying to represent other views than his own in a sense of fairness, when those views would better be represented by those who hold them. Had these quite modest ideas been represented by even a "moderate moslem", how much greater could have been the outcry from the tabloid media.

Perhaps the Archbishop has done the Christian thing by taking onto himself the anger and unjutified criticism. It has brought the issue into public discussion and once the heat has died down perhaps some illumination can be introduced to the discussion of incorporating Moslem dispute resolution into our legal system without detracting from the supremacy of our common and statute law.

This is not a matter which should lead anyone to call for Dr Rowan Williams to step down from his position as Archbishop of Canterbury. I find many of his writings hard to follow, but there is nothing in the rules that indicate that Archbishops should not challenge Anglican church members nor our civic society within his Archdiocese. More power to his intellectual elbow. May he challenge us all some more.
Don Head

  • 377.
  • At 12:03 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Charles wrote:

I have just watched the Newsnight "debate" on the Archbishop's speech, hoping that I would get an opportunity to hear the arguments from both sides and be able to form an objective view about the controversy. I am, however, none the wiser, after the appalling chairing of the debate by Paxman, who seemed to want to hear only the views of Douglas Murray. Murray (who appears to represent the "dangers of Islam" camp) was allowed to talk at length and give his views without interuption. The Oxford Muslim academic, who was trying to represent the other side of the argument, was never allowed to give anything other than short, often yes/no, answers and Paxman allowed Murray to interupt the academic's answers without making an attempt to curb him. What appalling journalism and an insult to the viewers and the reputation of the BBC as an unbiased broadcaster.

  • 378.
  • At 12:03 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Jeremy Travis wrote:

I think it is a tragedy to condemn the comments of Dr William's without understanding what he is trying to say or express.
It shows how ignorant a society we have become when we scream at a statement and don't understand what was being said.

Law is a forever changing process. It evolves to solve the problems of society.

We are meant to be a county of vision and tolerance that's why so many Muslims come here.

It would take a fool to say yes lets stone people for adultery homosexuality and I don't think Dr William's is a fool.

We should also have laws of Equality and Humanity that work.

Take a look at Sharia law some of it is shows fascinating insight into the accommodation and weakness of society.

Jeremy Travis

  • 379.
  • At 12:07 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • David Marett wrote:

I feel profoundly depressed by tonight's Newsnight item on the furore surrounding the Archbishop's recent speech to a group of lawyers. I am depressed because of my erstwhile high regard for the usual fairness of the BBC and for broadcasters like Mr. Paxman. The threeway interview was so slanted against Dr. Williams as to be lamentable. It would be so good if what the Archbishop actually meant could be reflected. (Even our modest Radio Jersey presenters this morning managed a much more honest representation - all honour to them.) The voices of the Bishop and, even moreso, the Muslim academic were almost drowned out unlike that of the writer on social cohesion (what a misnomer!) As in other performances I have seen from him, he was a wonderful example of the way 'cleverness' can make someone a gretaer stranger to wisdom than even the 'village idiot'. I hope that in the haste to 'wind-up', our Muslim friend's final appreciative comment of Bishop Lowe's wisdom was not completely lost. Presumably his rough handling was due to the fact that he turned out not to be the critic of he Archbishop that your website announces him to be. A sad 'low' for Newsnight and Mr. Paxman. We need to bring our people together, not seek to drive them apart and feed their feelings of alienation.

  • 380.
  • At 12:09 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Hannah wrote:

I am disappointed at the quality of the debate led by jeremy paxman on tonights programme. His handling of the issue was akin to that of a tabloid which simplifies, sensationalises and reduces the debate to the point of nonsense. Why was Douglas Murray allowed to rant on and on like a teenager throwing a tantrum and the reasonable and informed Tariq Ramadan constantly interrupted and prevented from responding to murray's ridiculous allegations? I expected more from the BBC. Had Tariq Ramadan been displaying less moderate and somewhat more extreme views, perhaps he would have been given more airtime and respect?
Thank you jeremy and Newsnight for contributing to the binary extremist views that are polarising and dividing our communities. The consequences will not be felt by you in your white middle class parallel suburbs but by disadvantaged, disenfranchised, marginalised communities, such as those in which the majority of Muslims live.

  • 381.
  • At 12:09 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Erhard Schneider wrote:

English Law has erver been in favour of free contracts. This covers Sharia contracts as well, even if the taxman takes a different view.

Criminal Law is cover by Acts of Par;iament and there is no reason to change this.

Family Law is also covered by Acts of Parliament. A marriage is a something like a public withnessed contract. If you want to get rid of this contract you have to do it accordingly to the procedure of the Familiy Law.

If somebody, Christian, Jew or Muslim feels that he can divorce only under the law of their church he/she may do so. It is their PRIVATE opinion and fortunately not recogniced by the Law.

There is ervery reason why religous law has been abolished from the Law of our country and of most countries in the world because religion is far beneath reason and can therefore have no reasonable judgments.

So let's say the Archbishop is a little bit out of his mind and let's go on to importand matters.

  • 382.
  • At 12:11 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • laura macleod wrote:

The ABC is a typical lofty intellectual who hides behind his white collar and thinks all thw world can live in harmony with his intellectual idealism. He says he is shocked by the reaction - well welcome to the real world of Britain Mr ABC - you seem totally out of touch with your fellow citizens. The point is that what the ABC has said is treason actually - in this age of ultimate do-gooders and rights for all, we begin to erode the actual fabric of our democratic society and its constitution that has been fought and died for through a thousand years of history for equal rights and everything that Sharia Law does not stand for (in many places in the world). More liberal Muslims will disagree but if we allow Sharia law the nature of it will eventually demand more and more of our own law to give way to it - it is inevitable. The ABC has opened up a dangerous pandora's box and he should know better. He is better off going to Saudi or Afghanistan and demanding that some form of British law must be adapted to their system - does he think anyone would be listening? Well we feel the same back here Mr ABC.

  • 383.
  • At 12:12 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • James Sharp wrote:

I believe the archbishop made a serious error in straying from his area of expertise. His chief role is to represent and proclaim the teaching of Jesus Christ and the theology and beliefs of the christian faith. Perhaps he was flattered by being invited to address a group of distinguished members of the legal profession. To have stressed the importance of Christian teaching and the contribution that Christianity had contributed to shaping our legal system and national values would in my view been a more appropriate approach to take. If he does not believe that Christian values and the teaching of Jesus Christ is sufficient to influence our laws then he should consider his position and claims to be a disciple of Christ.

We do not require a multicultural society that seeks to appease everyone and has no clear message and values for our nation.
History is littered with accounts of nations that abandoned its moral and religious values and then found themself in decline.

As a theologian he should be aware of the account of the decline morally, politcally and economically of Israel when it abandoned its religious and moral values. At the end of the book of Judges in the Old Testament the decline of Israel is attributed to the fact that 'everybody did that which was right in their own eyes.' The preceding chapters refer to the polytheism and multiculturalism of the Jews at this point in their history.

Multiculturalism results in a diminution of important principles, a loss of identity and a lack of clear direction within a nation.

The archbishop of the Anglican Church should promte its Christian teaching and ensure that this is his prime focus and priority.

  • 384.
  • At 12:13 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • pippop wrote:

There is no such thing as Islamophobia. A phobia is an irrational fear. The concerns and worries with regard to Islamic thought and Muslim practice are rational concerns about democracy.

The Archbishop seems to be completely unaware as to how male hegemony works. Those who defend his outrageous speech by claiming that the poor fellow did not mean for women to be stoned to death here in the UK display a level of naivety that is breathtakingly stupid.

No race, religion or tradition has the right to systematically abuse women. We have been too fearful in the UK to stand up for the values of a modern liberal democracy and so we have allowed certain cultures to hijack our very moral and necessary anti racist agenda in order to continue practising their gender violence. Each time the issue of the abuse of women and girls has come up for discussion the ethnic patriarchs have screamed "racist" and foolishly we have cowed away.

There has been a covert deal operating here in the Uk for many decades, a collusion between the ethnic patriarchs and the indigenous patriarchs. The deal goes like this:-

"You don't call us racist and we will leave you alone to treat your women in the manner to which you are accustomed"

The Government, police, doctors, nurses, social services have all been party to this covert deal. It was made in the hope of preventing men-on-men violence i.e. race riots by trying to ameliorate the loss of gender based power the ethnic patriarchs experience in our modern liberal democracy. It was and is a lily livered deal that sold out on their women and girls.

It was and is cowardly and shameful. It must not continue.

  • 385.
  • At 12:14 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Margaret - Cirencester wrote:

If we aren't careful our British way of life, culture, traditions and our democratic legal system will gradually be eroded by the likes of Dr. Williams. I think he has delved into very dangerous waters with this subject, causing even his loyal Church of England followers to question whether or not he should remain their leader. He may be a brilliant academic, but, he is totally misguided, arrogant and pompous. He should be worrying more about the sad state of the Church of England and leave our legal system alone, at least that has stood the test of time, which is more than can be said for his Church - he should resign, his appointment was a terrible mistake.

  • 386.
  • At 12:15 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • John Darcy wrote:

I am really amazed by this whole issue: the Archibishop makes a comment about Shariah Law and 17,000+ respondent (in Have your say) gang up on bashing every single muslim in the UK. Whilst I dont agree with Shariah Law being incorporated into British legal system, as a patriotic British citizen I find this Islamophobic attitude of my fellow citizens & countrymen totally abhorent and disgraceful.

  • 387.
  • At 12:18 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Nick wrote:

The spirit in which the Bishop argued should not be faulted.How many people have bothered to read his whole lecture and decide for themselves.
I am sorry but this country is run by headlines not by proper intellectual debate thats why we shall never have a Hillary, Obama, Maccain kind of situation where they all have an equal chance of being president.
Condemning him is clearly stiffling free speech.I never saw that outrage when a holocust denier was given a platform at Oxford.We talk of the law of the land but how many men would agree that family Law is biased agaisnt them and needs to be changed when it comes to divorce and custody?
Sharia law surely may not work but the spirit is what counts.The fact that we can all put forward different suggestions to build a better country.

  • 388.
  • At 12:20 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • louis levi wrote:

I am ashamed of Newsnight and of Paxman. On two grounds. First, Murray, who displayed the stereotypical behaviour and rhetoric of the BNP, was allowed to continue uninterrupted, while Paxman continued breaking in on the reasoned and informed exposition of the other two panellists. He appeared to be paying no attention to what they were attempting to explain, and his interruptions seemed to consist of arguments derived from headlines in the red-top tabloids.

Second, because of the sheer uninformed narrow-mindedness of the views Paxman and Murray (and most other commentators on the air and in the press) expressed. They seemed indifferent to, or ignorant of, the sociology of immigrant groups, and equally cared nothing for, or were uninformed about, the problem of culture contact in other countries.

  • 389.
  • At 12:20 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • shawshank wrote:

I am an agnostic. However, I think that the following laws should be brought about internationally:

(1) People should have their brains stitched back into their heads for commenting on speeches that they haven't read.

(2) Non-Christian countries should eliminate all laws against stealing, because otherwise they are incorporating "parts of the Ten Commandments" into their law, and that is not the religion of their people.

(3) The U.S. states that have capital punishment should be fined for incorporating "parts of Islamic law" in their state.

(4) Anyone in the UK that has committed adultery or had sex before marriage should be fined as this is against the Christian Ideology, and therefore against the British way of life.

(5) Anyone who has come to an agreement, guided by their own faith or morality, in a civil court should be immediately sent to prison if they did not consult "The Sun" for an opinion.


  • 390.
  • At 12:22 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • pippop wrote:

Clearly the Archbishop is unaware of the extent of control the Muslim patriarchs have on their women. Neither has he learnt any lessons from looking at how this failed in Canada.

Many Muslim women in the UK live in a ghettoised situation, this does not necessitate walls. Within these control zones the women and girls are policed by family and friends, they cannot access the mainstream legal system, they are obliged to submit to Sharia law.

We have already in this country an apartheid system operating with regard to non white women not having access to our mainstream laws, e.g. believe it or not, it's Ok here in the UK to practise on little black girls, not one single prosecution has ever taken place. You can slit the throats of recalcitrant Asian teenagers, force them to marry, and humiliate non white women with polygamy.

All of these things, theoretically against the law here, are carried out with impunity in this so called modern liberal democracy. This is what we have to concentrate on BEFORE we could or indeed ever should make gestures towards a primitive form of male hegemony.

Until we can truly offer all these females the freedom of our democracy we should not be acquiescing with sharia law. First things first. Freedom for many Muslim women and girls in the Uk must be achieved before we look at the self interested demands of patriarchs.

  • 391.
  • At 12:23 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • John wrote:

First may I say that many men fought and died in two world wars to stop people coming to this country and changing the way we live, but now it seems you don't need guns or tanks to do that anymore.
In time I believe that this country will become a Muslim state as we give up our values bit by bit.
as PC politicians bend over backwards to accommodate anyone for a vote.
One law for all, your beliefs weather christian or Islam have no place when it comes to the law of the land, which so many have fought and died for.
keep religion in the churches and the mosques, and out of the law.

  • 392.
  • At 12:30 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Fred Beach wrote:

Hi
Many of the followers of Islam in this country are here not for the weather, not for the state handouts, they are here because they escaped their country of origin. It maybe there was a war or some other political unrest, but in general they are here because they ran away from Islamic rule. Not the islamic religion, but the way Islam has been turned into a political weapon to control and repress so many peoples.

Some may argue that this isn't true, but how many would be happy to return to Iraq, Iran, Afganistan.
Many British muslims probably fear that this harsh interpretation of Islamic law may follow them here, but with extremist already gaining the headlines moderates don't really stand a chance do they? I dread the day when we allow differences to interfere with common law.

God did not invent religion, man did that, and throughout history having contol of religion has meant power, and power corrupts. So is there any wonder that there is such conflict in this world. Why can't we simply be happy to be human beings.

  • 393.
  • At 12:30 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Fayaz Khan wrote:

I have just watched Newsnight on the BBC. I expected an intellectual debate where guests respected each other and the chair controlled the debate. The BBC should make a public apology to their guests for the insults that were allowed to be made by the chair.

What were the aims of this debate? To have a debate on the actual content of the Archbishop's views? Or was it to stir up more anti-muslim and anti-religious feeling?

Looking at the posts in this web site, the tone of a significant set of posts are equating muslims with immigration policy. Was this one of the aims of the BBC Newsnight program?

I always believed the BBC to offer a fair voice to people explaining their views, but for the chair to interrupt the guests, and then later to allow one guest to insult another guest ....

This is unacceptable for an organisation that claims to offer professionally made TV programmes. Perhaps Newsnight is trying emulate The Jerry Springer Show?

  • 394.
  • At 12:31 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Stafford Fernando wrote:

It is very sad day for the CoE. The spiritual leader highlighting certain values in the Sharia Law. What about the high values of Christ? Isn't the Archbishop supposed to highlight them instead of dabbling in facts he does not know. The laws of the this land has been tested to the limits, and unlike the Sharia Law, which is still a arbitrary set of rules bias towards men and muslims alone (no tolerance whatsoever towards the unbelievers).

Archbishop should highlight injustices done to Christian minorities in Muslim countries.

I am a foreigner and CoE member, and this is the last straw. I will be suspending my membership until the Archbishop resign from the post. I do not need an appeaser for a hostile religion to be my spiritual leader.

  • 395.
  • At 12:33 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • broz wrote:

Archbishop Rowan Williams should step aside as he is finding the job too taxing. As the head of the Anglican faith, he should realise his utterances are scrutinised all over the world.If he wants to see how Sharia Laws operate he should go and live in Saudi Arabia.Better still convert to Islam.

  • 396.
  • At 12:34 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

#233 - Imam Mohammed Shahid Raza

With all due respect, what gives you the right to put the following terms in the same sentence - 'secular', 'Islamophobic' and 'right wing'. It is a massive generalisation that serves no useful purpose. There are regimes in the Islamic world whose right wing tendancies make most western governments look tame by comparison. Islamophobia is something dreamed up by people who feel the need to be persecuted (collective paranoia if you like).

Secularism, on the other hand, is laudible. It is the triumph of the rule of law over prejudice and religious bigotry. As such, it is the best hope that any of us have. To keep matters of faith as private matters and go out into the world accepting that not everyone will agree with us.

  • 397.
  • At 12:36 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • J S Taylor wrote:

My first reaction to all this was to think "stupid man". Then I thought that maybe it was a knee-jerk reaction and that I should give more thought to it. Having now done that my verdict is - "stupid man" ! A lot of the comments posted above are valid. Yes, I'm sure he didn't mean aspects of stoning to death and hand chopping but I can see cases where supposedly "two people agreeing" would be one person agreeing and the other having to "obey" (ie in a divorce). The people enforcing the sharia law would probably not be enlightened and westernised. The muslim women would be intimidated. If we give in to them they will want more (and more of them will come to this country). The segregation of their community is self-imposed, we all know that. A lot of them don't want to be integrated. How on earth can a muslim woman be integrated with us when she is covered from head to foot in a burqua? Theirs truly is a 'man'-made religion. I am an athiest but the christian values we follow in this country are sound good sense. Having said that I worry that our country has gone soft in the head (well, you know what I mean)- we give in to all the minorities and ignore the vast majority of the public crying out for good sense from our leaders. I wonder about people like him and Ken Livingstone being in a position of power when they seem to be trying to work against this country. Yes Rowan Williams should go. He might consider himself to be an intellectual but he hasn't been very intelligent. Anyway, to end on a high note - he strikes me as being rather a vain man with those carefully upswept eyebrows! Sorry, but I'm angry!

  • 398.
  • At 12:39 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Jancis Andrews wrote:

A group of Muslims in Ontario, Canada, asked that Sharia law be instituted in the civil court. The uproar was so great this harmful suggestion was quickly turned down. People pointed out that the Qu'ran 4:34 gives a husband permission to abuse his wife. If she disobeys him (!!!) he must first scold her. If she continues to disobey, he must then starve her of sex, affection and attention. If she continues to disobey him, he can then beat her. What a barbarous philosophy! Combine this with the fact that a Muslim can take up to four wives, and you have a real scenario for the abuse of women. Does the Archbishop know all this? If he does, and he still says Sharia law should be implemented, he is no Christian. A real Christian would not agree to the abuse of women, nor to their being downgraded to the status of chattel or sexual collectible. Shame on the Archbishop! Christ must weep when he looks down on him.

  • 399.
  • At 12:42 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • John Ryan wrote:

Listening to, reading or watching comments on the Archbishop's words I
do wonder if I was the only layman in
the U.K. who actually listened to the interview on the World at One on Thursday. His words about "other religious groups" immediately put me in mind of material on the use of the Jewish Beth Din courts for dealing with civil matters between Jews that was broadcast on Radio Four some years ago.

So, what he was implying was that matters could be dealt with in an Islamic way using the same principle of treating it as an arbitration - no hassle! Just making things tidy and consistent. Perhaps it might have stopped the runaway flap had he been more explicit about the processes he had in mind.

Tonight, sadly, Jeremy P. did the argument no favours by his bullying approach, denial of Professor Ramadan, both the opportunity to make a clarifying statement uninterrupted and his academic honorific - whilst apparently giving
countenance to a "fundamentalist libertarian".

What a tragedy! Most of the people who I have seen or heard reporting or commenting on this seem only to be able to recognise their own wholly spurious versions of what was said, which, conveniently, allow many to suggest that Dr Williams must go!

  • 400.
  • At 12:43 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • c. souter wrote:

Hilarious! The very sight of men in dog collars, and all that elaborate self-congratulatory pompous garb of archbishopry, has me wondering whether or not they are in fact a different species of primate altogether? Can humans really be so stupid and gullible as to believe in all this religious nonsense? It is obviously a worldwide male generated scam, and an archaic conspiracy to gain power over as many dumb members of the population as possible. It's about time it was banned from all civilised societies as most of us now know better thanks to scientific discoveries in all areas. Those that persist in teaching religion to their children [in other words,carry out brainwashing and so abuse their position as parents] simply because they are afraid of losing control over them, should be made to realise that humans are naturally good without the need for all these lies and threats of punishment by supernatural terrors. Repercussions for bad behaviour are covered by secular laws, and a return to good parenting would be a better topic to focus on at a time when mothers who have to work have no time to spend on simply loving and caring for their own children. Ban all religious practises and save the world and the human race from further ridiculous argument, war, and wicked senseless bloodshed. Delusion is deadly!

  • 401.
  • At 12:43 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Kevin Johnson wrote:

This entire debate is extremely depressing, because it shows that we live in a country that struggles to accept the values of others.

Unfortunately it really does appear that Great Britain can now add another accolade to it’s score-sheet: that of being "islamophobic".

But when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I watched this evening’s appalling edition of NewsNight. My heart sank to new depths with the realization that the BBC could host a debate, and purposely put centre-stage, a bigoted, hate-filled, vile man, whose intention was to spout-off dangerous generalizations of Muslims, and their Faith…..

I say ‘dangerous’, because it is clear that the BBC is fuelling a debate, and so purposely taking us all towards the abyss. And ‘dangerous’, because having read more than 50 of the above comments, it is clear to me that the majority of people who made their comments clear, have neither heard or read (or understood) the general thrust of The Archbishop’s paper; but instead formulated their opinions from the slanted, sensationalist coverage presented by the BBC, and its partners in crime, the tabloid press.

Shame on you Mr. Paxman, and the management of the BBC, for taking us to such depths.

  • 402.
  • At 12:43 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • JamesT wrote:

Perhaps the Archbishop feels an empathy with Islam over its contempt for homosexuals?

  • 403.
  • At 12:44 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • John Nixon wrote:

Newsnight tonight (8/02/08) got a bit heated (thankfully). We need more of this but what a pity you could not get any opinions from Muslim (or ex-Muslim)women. Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Taslima Nasreen could have really set the cat among the pigeons. Rowan Williams was several times referred to as a respected intellectual. As a former member of a research establishment, I knew several intellectuals very well. Some of them were brilliant in specific cases but could be unbelievably naïve in general. Rowan Williams puts them all in the shade.
His apologist on the programme, Bishop Whatsisname, was completely out of his depth and seemed totally unable to grasp the rationale of the debate.

  • 404.
  • At 12:51 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Dan Minnick wrote:

Firstly I'd like to say that the reaction of the public to the Archbishop's comments are not in large part Islamophobic, but stem from a distrust of religious influence on state government that permeates British history going back to the formation of the Church of England.

Having read the speech in it's entirety, it is quite clear that the aim of the speech is to discuss the possibility of making allowances for religious tradition in law, the Archbishop is simply proposing sharia law as an example of how this could be implemented.

The recent experiment in allowing this type of influence in Ontario (where I grew up) ended in what I feel is the best possible solution in the complete separation of all religious traditional laws across the entire spectrum of religions including Jewish and Christian courts already in operation.

It is interesting to note that the main detractors were muslim women, led by an Iranian woman, Homa Arjomand. I have taken the following from the Guardian Unlimited website (http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/news/2008/02/sharia_law_in_canada_almost.html)

Homa Arjomand, an Iranian who organised International Campaign Against Sharia Court in Canada, argued that the recommendations would push back Canadian law by 1,400 years.

"Our lawyers are studying the decisions of several arbitration cases and will bring them to court and expose how women are victimised by male-dominated legal decisions based on 6th-century religion and traditions."

Another protester Nasrin Ramzanali, said "If the shariah is used in Canada, I also feel threatened here."

For more information you can visit www.nosharia.com. And may I add I have the utmost respect for the bravery of these women to speak out publicly given the inevitable reaction of primitivist Muslim society.

I, as most of us in the west, cannot claim to be familiar with the specifics of sharia law however I do feel strongly about the separation of church and state in that there cannot be any connection whatsoever.

Our history shown the dangers that exist when religion is allowed to influence the laws of a the state.

We need only to look at Saudi Arabia as a modern example and the atrocities exacted on women under their interpretation of Islamic law.
Further there have been the personal interpretations of many Muslims that have resulted in the murder of a great many women in incidents of so called 'honor killings.' (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA33/018/1999)

I have no doubt that intelligently interpreted and implemented in moderation, sharia law can produce a healthy societal model. However in the majority, this has not turned out to be the case and as such the idea must be abandoned and permanently discluded from British law as should all religious influence.

  • 405.
  • At 12:55 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • pippop wrote:

Nick @312 writes,

"I am sorry but this country is run by headlines not by proper intellectual debate...."

Lets not dress this nonsense up as intellectual. This whole religious pleading is about willy power both Rowan Williams' and the imams. Our modern secular liberal democracy has thrown patriarchy into disarray they are running scared.

This last outburst is, I hope, their swan song.

Those of you who insist that we all should live by ONE law are creating a square hole and forcing all your many shaped pegs to fit through that ONE whole. You are failing to recognise that it takes "diferent strokes for diferent folks". The approach to different people should be individualized. Different people live by different circumstances and this complexity of our society should be recognised. To dogmatically insist on one law for all people no matter what their circumstances, is over simplistic. We should not be afraid of embracing a little sophistication into our laws to accomodate the complexity within our society. What is wrong with that?

I have always held tremendous respect for the archbishop and am not blinkered by any prejudices and ingnorance of other cultures - to see a lot of sense in his ideas.

WE SHOULD CELEBRATE OUR DIVERSITY INSTEAD OF ALLOWING OURSELVES TO BE ASSIMILATED INTO A SINGLE INTOLERANT CULTURE, THROUGH FORCED INTEGRATION!

Another point: British law is only SUPERFICIALLY, ONE law for everyone. In practice, in my experience, there is a lot of prejudiced discretion in the application of that law. (For example, look at some of the dubious, recently introduced, terrorism offences such as possesion of material which COULD be used for terrorism. Would that law be applied equally to all races and religions? I am not so naive.)

  • 407.
  • At 12:58 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Anne wrote:

The spokesperson of the centre for social cohesion that was part of debate last night came across as a upstart pretencious individual
He ideas at times were very radical and offensive to me, and i am a devote christian. His remarks and offensive comments i believe will fuel even more hatered and encourage islamophobia. Please do not bring him to the show next time!! I am bitterly disapointed with the BBC for allowing such a media biggot into the debate.

  • 408.
  • At 12:58 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • An Englishman wrote:

For a thousand years it seems to me that my forebears have striven to make a decent, fair, equitable and flawed society in this country. One that welcomes all the comments on this site and its very existance. I always believed that the Anglican Church, for all its modern angst, quietly but determinedly underpinned and enshrined that progress. Clearly I was wrong. A feckless and weak priest has other ephemeral and modish ideas, which are doubtless welcomed by those whose span of consciousness covers only their own privileged earthly existance. I will not allow my grandchildren - especially the female ones - to be assaulted, abused and cut by the State. May the gentle God I know replace this self-indulgent fool with a brave and focussed indidivual before the darkness comes down again.

  • 409.
  • At 12:59 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Brian (Orpington) wrote:

I have just been watching News-night on BBC2 and I am so angry and appalled by what I have seen that I had to switch off my television and write this e-mail. Jeremy Paxman is confrontational I know, but he has taken the BBC down to a level of utter sensationalism not worthy of a generally respectable broadcasting institution. Many of the questions fired at the Bishop speaking in defence of Rowan Williams and the Muslim speaker were unbelievable given that Mr Paxman had read the text of the Archbishops lecture. He was at one point asking the Muslim speaker about something in Sharia law about killing (at this stage I was angry and disgusted at Mr Paxman's pursuit of something that had nothing to do the Arcbishop's lecture). I turned off when Mr Paxman completely changed his tone and seemingly reversed his position, bringing the Jewish court into the discussion with Mr Murray. He attacks Sharia law vehemently on one hand and and then calmly gives an example of part of a different religious law working alongside English law thus making a mockery of his earlier aggressive approach.

I regret to say that the confrontational approach employed by some media personnel, including Jeremy Paxman, in my personal opinion fuels discord, instead of trying to help stabalise sensitive situations.The media does have a mandate to report the news but not to help fuel "hysteria".

  • 410.
  • At 01:01 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • MArtin Kenneth Edwards wrote:

The massive reaction to the ABC's speech is not Islamophobic. It is rather the voice of the people requiring that we keep British Law seperated from all religions. Very many aspects of Sharia Law seem to be horrendously barbaric, a bit like British Law used to be when we hanged 10 year old boys for stealing apples from the local laird. I'm sure Rowan did not intend to suggest blanket acceptance of Sharia Law. All law should be evolving to improve justice for the society it serves.This is a British society, subject to British Law, and current British Law is my preference to current Sharia Law. Sharia Law has much to learn from British Law. Conversely, there may lessons for English law in Sharia Law. However, this land will always be British, under British Law. The voice of the majority is speaking in this debate, certainly over-reacting in some cases, but this voice is not anti -Islamic, nor Islamophobic. It is simply saying no to Sharia Law it's current state.

  • 411.
  • At 01:01 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Aileen wrote:

No to Sharia Law in British Law.
The Archbishop wanted this issue in the public domain - he spoke to a journalist. He is not naive and his motives need questioned, He clearly is at odds with the politicians and is a loose cannon.
He is leader of the Church of England but what membership does he have - I suspect a minority of the population - so who is he speaking for? Many people have moved away from religion as so much of its teaching is barbaric practice (old testament)and does not stand up to rational enquiry. It is also the most divisive force in the world.
Why does he feel he needs to appease a minority group who shelter extremists. Sharia Law appears to have as many interpretations as Islamic speakers but as seen in parts of the world,it includes medieval practices.
Ed Husain in his book, "The Islamist," exposes the extent of organised Islamic extremism in Britain in universities and Mosques. If extremists took over the Muslim community, more than they already have, then Sharia Law in their hands would be horrendous for British society.
If Muslims want to live in Britian, they need to honour our way of life, while having the freedom to follow their religion, peacefully. They should not demand to change our way of life to their way of life. Enough is enough, all those who are silent on the extremist cancer in our society should stand up and be counted. If we value our way of life, we should not tolerate such appeasement.The Archbishop is appeasing the Muslims without knowing what the end game is in this age of terrorism. I do not trust his judgement and he should resign.

The question should be: "is the BBC Britishphobic?"

Not difficult to answer really though.

  • 413.
  • At 01:07 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • gary wrote:

Religion Blah Blah. It really isn`t relevant to the average person in the street. It`s simple if you wish to live within the British Isles then you agree to live by it`s judicial system . If you don`t agree please go and live where they have your beliefs .

  • 414.
  • At 01:10 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • tommy wrote:

There is a genuine threat to the British culture. We should nip this idea in the bud.

  • 415.
  • At 01:12 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • c souter wrote:

I would be interested to hear what muslim women themselves have to say about sharia laws concerning marriage and financial issues, and how it would affect them if it became a legitimate part of british law. If they are allowed to comment on such issues that is?

  • 416.
  • At 01:14 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Hannah Nunn wrote:

I was hoping to be enlightened by an intelligent debate on this issue in tonight's Newsnight programme and I was sorely disappointed. Paxman showed an obvious bias towards Mr Murray and against Mr Ramadan. Why invite a well-respected Muslim intellectual onto the programme if he is not to be allowed to speak? I am none the wiser about the true meaning of sharia law and how the archbishop feels parts of it could contribute to the legal system in this country after watching Newsnight. I am instead incensed at the one-sided view, based on commonly held misunderstandings of the religion of many citizens of this country, presented by the BBC, which has clearly fuelled the Islamaphobic sentiments that are now so dangerously prevalent in our society today. Shame on you BBC, and definitely shame on Paxman for his terrible handling of this opportunity to shed light on a subject that the vasy majority of the population know next to nothing about. Disgusting.

  • 417.
  • At 01:19 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • The Panda wrote:

One thing we forget about society is

We forget about our own "Intolerance yet we condemn it in others who forget theirs.

We also want a fair and equal society yet we are intolerant of people who contest and question the system.

Do we fear Islam or do we fear ourselves.

Do we condemn free speech ? ~ the foundation of our society

Or do we fear our inability to walk the path of fools.


Equality for Pandas

  • 418.
  • At 01:20 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Hischam Khan wrote:

Whenever Muslims call for change, this supposedly being a fundamental right of every individual under a fair democracy, they are continuously met with brash instantaneous reactions -- being told to get with the programme or go elsewhere and other such nonsense, but when Muslims likewise react emotionally, such as over the Danish cartoons, they are told that they should learn to have healthy discussions and respect opposition -- a truly conflicting approach! As though that was not bad enough, we then find every Tom, Dick, and Harry talking like they’re scholars of the Qur’an, interpreting it like they studied it for years, yet like complete buffoons, not even managing to read it within its full context, something even a teenager ought to manage.

God it makes me laugh, and not in the humorous sense, hearing Douglas Murray, on Newsnight, making reference to "the second Book of the Qur’an," and the so-called women being "worth half the witness of a man in an Islamic court" which is a complete misinterpretation that you often find passed about by those with an inherent anti-Islamic agenda. The verse in question says no such thing; it actually explains that two men should be witness to certain fixed financial transactions, and only if they are not around would one man and two women suffice, and this is "so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her" (2:282). The point here being that since most women had little to do with financial matters in 7th century Arabia, they could easily get lost and befuddled here, thus this is alleviated by advising them to help each other. This has absolutely nothing to do with gender, and the context makes this ever so clear, yet Douglas Murray, in his very assertive tone, decides he needs to make a complete idiot of himself. Alas, can there be a clearer proof to the blinding effect that prejudice has on people?

As a Muslim, I feel like people here in this country are becoming increasingly hostile toward my religion, and many look for any old excuse to give Islam a bashing. What some of the papers had to say was just appalling, but having discussed matters to do with my religion with others for a while now, it is unfortunate that they do reflect the prejudices that a growing number of people adopt.

I also found it strange that people were so strongly opposed to men marrying more than one woman, which again happens to have a lot more background to it, but even so, how is it then that we are so okay with men having countless mistresses without having to take any responsibility in such relationships? I am not an advocate for polygyny, and I have good reason not to be, but surely a man marrying two women, and therefore accepting responsibility toward both, is much better than a man taking one wife and countless girlfriends with whom he can just break contact once he gets tired of them. I am shocked to see people on the news, on chat shows, in the papers etc. talking like we have the moral high-ground here; excuse me, but this just makes us a bunch of hypocrites!

  • 419.
  • At 01:21 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • The Panda wrote:

One thing we forget about society is

We forget about our own "Intolerance yet we condemn it in others who forget theirs.

We also want a fair and equal society yet we are intolerant of people who contest and question the system.

Do we fear Islam or do we fear ourselves.

Do we condemn free speech ? ~ the foundation of our society

Or do we fear our inability to walk the path of fools.


Equality for Pandas

Dr Rowan, or Father or whatever. He's a clever guy. A lot smarter than most Archbishops we've had in the UK. I saw Newsnight last night and there was a young woman who was there when he made his speech, and Kirsty Walk saw the interview he gave the BBC beforehand.

There's something in what he's saying, there's a large group of Muslims in the UK and 'better' integration would be good for all. It's looking for and finding the similarities that will bring us together, and he's started the debate, it's just because it's such a hot topic every word has been jumped on and dissected.

I just hope some good comes of all the media hype and the UK becomes a better place to live because of it.

  • 421.
  • At 01:45 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Walter Schofield wrote:

The most significant conclusion to be drawn from Dr Williams`comments and the susequent debate is the pressing need for the secularisation of the State and its laws, and in particular the dissestablishment of the Church of England.Only when our equality before the law and our freedom of thought are protected from doctrinal intervention,can we tolerate each others religious beliefs.The terrible certainty that religions have for their often conflicting beliefs about the supernatural and its consequences for human behaviour make for intolerance and instability in government.Hence a secular state where reason takes precedence over dogma is the best bet for all concerned.


  • 422.
  • At 01:46 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • c king wrote:

Dr williams would do well to remember, that the reason he is free to espouse his ill conceived ideas within the public domain, is precisely because enshrined in British law is the premise that we all have the inalianable right to equal treatment as citizans irrespective of ethnic,religious gender or cultural differences, and that those rights allow us the freedom to speak out in a manner which would be forbidden in the majority of countries practising sharia law.British law is and has been for centuries secular, and in order to protect all citizans should remain so.Dr Williams behaviour makes it all the more imperative that religious institutions remain outside those with legal jurisdiction.

  • 423.
  • At 01:51 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Sam Hameed wrote:

I'm a muslim and I don't care about any of this rubbish that people get so worked up over. Its mindless dribble.
All I care about are low taxes and the economy. I'm sure that's what people really care about.

Further to my comment earlier, (comment No. 364) and in response to the many islamophobic sentiments expressed here, I would like to add that to alienate yourself from muslims, is to alienate yourself from a third of the population of the world.

WE SHOULD CELEBRATE OUR DIVERSITY INSTEAD OF ALLOWING OURSELVES TO BE ASSIMILATED INTO A SINGLE INTOLERANT CULTURE, THROUGH FORCED INTEGRATION!

  • 425.
  • At 02:22 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Wendy Wheeler wrote:

The general uproar surrounding Archbishop Williams’ recent lecture is a classic example (another occurred some twenty-five or so years ago around comments by the then Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins) of what happens when discussions in an academic context get caught up within a wider popular discussion to which much anxiety is attached. It occurs when academic intellectuals who are also public intellectuals are so driven by the sense and interest of their own arguments that they forget not only about the ambiguities of language in general, but also about the degrees of felt anxiety concerning their broad topic within the wider commonly felt culture.
Those who have actually read Archbishop Williams 7th February 2008 Foundation Lecture at the Royal Courts of Justice will know that its main concerns are with tensions between an Enlightenment conception of the law of the State – which views all citizens as essentially normative and the same before the law – and the particularities of individuals and, particularly, minority groups. The normative law of the state is, necessarily, a relatively blunt instrument. But if you are interested in social cohesion (as Archbishop Williams is), you will always also be interested in ways of mediating the interests, convictions and beliefs of those groups who depart in some ways from the normative regulative State ‘ideal’ manifest in State law.
Archbishop Williams’ main point in his lecture is that social identities are plural, not monolithic. This doesn’t just apply to ethnic minorities. My interests, as a single divorced working mother, for example, are not absolutely identical with, or met by, the interests expressed by the liberal State in which I live. In the latter, the “marriage contract” hardly means anything at all under liberal conceptions of freedom. In this State, “suing” for divorce will not necessarily (or even often) result, for example, in economic justice to women and children deserted by husbands and fathers. Where do my particular interests (my identity as a woman, a mother, a worker, a subject of the State – not all by any means the same identity) meet with my normative and general identity as that abstract thing: a British citizen? There is always, in other words, a potential disjunction between the justice which the State manages to afford, and what might seem really just to individuals or to groups with (in this case, but not that) similar interests.
Social progress consists in the ways that we can continue to have conversations about what counts as justice for this or that group. This is really all that Archbishop Williams was saying – that we need to go on having conversations about possible negotiations between the blunt instrument of necessarily normative State law, the interests it serves (who is the normative subject the State law most comfortably supports?), and the complicated and variously experienced identities of individuals, and groups of individuals, within the general polity.
If the Archbishop made a mistake, it was in misjudging the level and extent of anxiety about social discohesion now associated with multiculturalism in general and Islamic fundamentalism in particular. He was addressing ways of maintaining social cohesion within the law, but perhaps he underestimated the extent to which many people feel that a shared social fabric of shared meanings and behaviours – the very things we all need in order to make sense of our social environments – is already in tatters.

  • 426.
  • At 02:35 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Jovan Weismiller wrote:

It is not Islamophobic to defend the rule of law in Britain. The introduction of Shariyah for any matter simply accentuates and intensifies division in British society. Dr Williams has proven that he is not fit to be a Bishop of the Church or a member of the House of Lords and he should resign forthwith.

  • 427.
  • At 02:48 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • gillian wells wrote:

Newsnight had an opportunity to do something constructive about this complex issue. The 300+ blogs are clear testimoney to the fact that few people have read or understand the issues.
What went out shed no light on the subject. The programme was irrisponsible, unattractive and utterly frustrating.

No marks to Mr Paxman and definitely minus marks to Mr. Murray- does he really have an interest in social cohesion?

can anyone name one country where sharia law has brought stability and prosperity to its people? any country?

  • 429.
  • At 05:23 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • john wilfred sharp wrote:

why give any voice to any religion.
all religions should follow the laws of the land . people must be warned that religions are not based on any sound facts and what they offer has never been proven .As Atheist.All religious teaching are unfair if not totaly barbaric , chistans will burn gays muslims stone US to death , beating women in in their books too so is slavery . can you beleive that ?

  • 430.
  • At 06:20 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Richard Whitehouse wrote:

As I understand that Muslims form only about 3% of our population,I can never understand why we give them such prominence in the media.They chose to live in our country and should abide by our laws,period.

Is the tail wagging the dog?

The Archbishop is merely highlighting the potential for continued divisions,when the Church is so divided on so many issues dear to the hearts of many in this Christian country.Those are the matters he should be addressing at this time.

  • 431.
  • At 08:21 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Marie wrote:

On last night's programme the Oxford professor emphatically stated that 'hand chopping' and ‘a woman is worth half a man’ etc were not part of his Sharia, and that Sharia law was open to interpretation by individuals. This made me wonder how it could be used as a legal code in this county if even the Muslim community cannot agree on common principles and punishments.

  • 432.
  • At 09:35 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • pappi pugh wrote:

Has no one noticed including the Archbishop and political leaders that the UK has already made sure that Sharia Law will not be applied in UK family courts since the UK has opted out of the EU's ROME III regulation. When it comes into affect, it's still at the drafting stage, it will allow EU member states to apply the laws of other countries in their family law courts, and potentially the laws of third countries, including Sharia Law.

  • 433.
  • At 10:16 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Catherine wrote:

I am absolutely appalled at the irresponsible way Newsnight covers sensitive issues. What was once a forum for considered dicussion of current affairs is now a joke and doesn't deserve to be on the BBC. Last night's discussion of the remarks made by Dr Rowan Williams was shocking. Clearly these issues should be discussed openly, and the media must reflect all views, but there can be no excuse for turning the discussion into a circus and goading people into shouting at each other. This sort of journalism is irresponsible, particularly in this context. Jeremy Paxman is getting more like Jeremy Kyle every day. The line between journalism and entertainment should be firmly drawn and Newsnight should get over itself.

  • 434.
  • At 10:33 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Babs Barron wrote:

To resist the formal introduction of sharia law in Britain is not islamophobic; it is sensible. Whatever the misguided Archbishop may believe, sharia is incapable of being split into parts and applied - it is a total, all-consuming entity and one cannot pick and mix what is followed. It is antithetical to the democratic process which has given us laws by which British citizens should abide.

Muslim women are already at a considerable disadvantage under sharia law - their word is worth half that of a man in a sharia court; they themselves cannot divorce a cruel husband; if they get a divorce then their children are their husband's property. To provide a formal mechanism whereby this gross infringement of their human rights can be perpetuated within our legal code would be a betrayal of our humanity as well as our democratic history.

As I write two sisters - identified only as Zohreh and Azar - have been convicted of adultery in Iran.

They have now been sentenced to be stoned to death. Adultery is a crime punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the canons of sharia law. The Iranian Supreme Court has upheld the stoning sentence.

Zohreh and Azar have already received 99 lashes for "illegal relations." Yet they were tried again for the same crime, and convicted of adultery on the evidence of videotape that showed them in the presence of other men while their husbands were absent. The video does not show either of them engaging in any sexual activity at all. Their crime is non-existent, their trials a miscarriage. This is sharia law.

Rowan Williams' remarks were thoughtless and ill-conceived. I am amazed that he was shocked at the reaction to them. He should resign.

  • 435.
  • At 10:52 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Nadia wrote:

As a brithish muslim I am deepley offended that you want to introduce tyhe so called sharia law. I was born and bred in this country and I only obide my the british ruling!!!! There is no way any muslim out there wants to be oppressed or not feel equal or valued as men. This is not the dark ages. This country is my home and I am part of this ruling. The debate show that I watched last night I feel that parry was absouloute correct! Why bring in opression. We appericate this country more for us women and the opportunities that are lying for us. In Islam no matter which version you read it says women have much rights as men and opportunities so why take that away. If the law does come about I can assure you now that I will be breaking it every day. Just because I am a muslim in this country I dont want to have different rulings to my neighbour. This is my country as well We are no outsider so leave us alone. If your not happy about the ruling or the laws or life style then leave! This is coming from a happy british muslim who will fight for britain!!!!!!!!

  • 436.
  • At 10:59 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Rosa Tray wrote:

The Newsnight programme did well considering the outrageously bad manners of Tariq Ramadan who persistently tried to shout down anyone who opposed his views.

Mr Murray had good points to make, but Ramadan did his ghastly best to stop him making them.

Hischam Khan, why should not Muslims who live here abide by the same laws as we do? Anyone and everyone can call for "change" but much depends upon the way in which they call for it. More often than not, "change" is demanded by Muslim spokesmen (who probably don't represent the views of the Muslim population of Britain) to accommodate them, rather than suggested by Muslim spokesmen as ways for constructive working together.

I suggest that this exaggerated sense of entitlement given out by their spokesmen which results in the attitudes to Muslims which you describe. They should get themselves better spokesmen and women.

  • 437.
  • At 11:00 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • loosely Quaker wrote:

Some time ago the BBC appointed Jeremy Bowen to the new post of Middle East Editor, to explain news stories, especially those involving the Israel-Palestine conflict, and put them in a wider context. Perhaps the time has now come for the BBC to appoint someone to play a similar role regarding the coverage of Islamic affairs, in this country and abroad. It seems that existing staff, including Jeremy Paxman, Martha Kearney and Mark Easton lack the necessary background knowledge. The Islamic affairs editor might under an intensive course at eg the London School of Oriental and African Studies or other academic institutions. After all, this is a highly inflammatory area where misreporting and exaggeration could have disastrous consequences in terms of polarisation of society, scare mongering, a backlash against Muslims (which we are already seeing) and so on. Why did Newsnight last night need to show emotive footage of floggings and other Islamic punishments, with the clear implication to the average viewer's mind that this is that the Archbishop is advocating, when you know quite well it is not. And why was Tariq Ramadan repeatedly cut short and not given the chance to respond to the repeated statement from Douglas Murray that the Koran says a woman is worth half a man.


  • 438.
  • At 11:01 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Nadia wrote:

As a British Muslim I am deeply anguished by the fact of the sharia law. No we dont want them no we happy the way everything is. This is not the dark ages so let go. As being born and bred here in the UK I dont want a different ruling just because of my religion or culture. This is my home and respect and fight for the rulings in this country. This country offere women rights and oppertunities which no other country can give why would I want to throw that down the pan. Islamist have never accepeted women atanding on there own to feet and enjoying the freedom.
In this country Islam has beciome a terriost religion why? because of stupid ideas like this. Islam is supposed to bring peace and submission. Women have alot of freedom and rights so why are you calling yourself a muslim if you are going against that. I dont want to be treated differently because of my beliefs I am in this country and I obey this ruling.
If you are not happy you which way to.
For all you brain washed muslims out there please wake up we have been brought up and raised and educated may be even working in this country under this ruling why change now. I have never experienced oppersion or danger from my felklow christian neighbours. I have recieved justice from the british law when i Was a victim of domestic abuse. Would I have got that under the sharia law which ios ruled by men I dont think so!
Long live britain and its ruling.

  • 439.
  • At 11:19 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Laura Holland wrote:

Tariq Ramadan and the Right Rev Stephen Lowe were pathetic. The reason why Jeremy Paxman interrupted them was because they were trying not to answer the questions.

It would have been extremely patronising for Mr Paxman not to have pursued them – as he does others – when they started to waffle. Rt Rev’s Lowe’s performance on the BBC Six O’Clock News and Newsnight was astonishing.

On the Six O’Clock News he alleged overtones of racism behind the criticism (I wasn’t aware there was an Islamic gene), and then on Newsnight he served up more guff: It was the fault of the Press. When Jeremy explained that people responded straight after the World at One broadcast with the ABC’s interview, it was: oh, they hadn’t read the speech. Well, not by then they hadn’t, but they had every right to comment on what the ABC said on that radio show (if the words didn’t mean anything why say them?).

Thereafter Rt Rev Lowe did his level best to stifle any “intellectual debate” by alleging the public hadn’t read the speech people or that if they had, they had misunderstood it. His version of an “intellectual debate” is: you shut up and listen to what we tell you. The truth is the ABC has got a debate on his hands and he doesn’t like losing it or being exposed for what a stupid man he is.

The ABC’s supporters on this chatboard don’t even bother to deal in facts half the time, they just defend their man by saying: he’s an intellectual. So what? There were plenty of intellectuals in the Third Reich and Saddam Hussein’s government – it’s what gave them such power, it certainly doesn’t make them right all the time.

  • 440.
  • At 11:22 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • mark wrote:

Why should we tolerate the most intolerant religion in the world?

Take a look at any theocracy under the rule of sharia and what do you see?

why would anyone in their right mind want to start opening the door to such a primitive belief system?

The Arch Bishop of Canterbury has taken leave of his senses; to alienate
Christianity is the thin edge of the wedge creating more divisions in a mixed society losing English
civillization for Christians.

The Naive Arch Bishop should consider
a lifetimes tolerance of afghanistan,
and other fanatics doing their best to destroy and bankrupt our world.

We must not allow Islam to dominate.
I would also go as far as to say STOP anymore entrance.
letbabsin Norfolk

  • 442.
  • At 11:41 AM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • GM Lindsay wrote:

This man is an embarrassment to both the Church of England and the country.
The CoE has lost its way ever since he was appointed to his current position.
I have lived in a country where Sharia law was the law of the land and it was not for me - hence my return to the UK.
Those who wish to be subjected to Sharia law should up sticks and head off to one of the many countries where it is practised - and stop trying to force their ways on the rest of us here in the UK.

  • 443.
  • At 12:04 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Ricky wrote:

I think one of the greatest and most significant parts of British culture is that we have easily one of the best legal systems in the world. All are equal under the law.

Muslim law as was pointed out by another poster would infer women have far less rights than a man. This is inherently wrong and unjust and goes against the base social freedoms of our great country.

Over the last week what has been over looked was that there was a Muslim priest also trying to argue for Muslim law.

This was the same man may I add who was also filmed by the BBC saying that he wanted a Islamic super state and that all infidels should be smited or similar. What this equates to basically is Genocide.

In another instance it was reported over the last few weeks was a young muslim girl who was sixteen or similar who was murdered/vanished in a honour killing. There is no honour in the murder of a child.

How about the Jews? I am not a Jew although I will speak in their defence. Under the Islamic vision they should be killed. We have already had one holocaust and don't need another.

Today we have people who strap bombs to their chest. The source? Fanatic Muslim priests teaching their followers to kill themselves.

I am against Muslim law because I don't want to live in a society where children are murdered which has proven to be the case. I don't want to live in a society where women are worth less than a man. As all are equal. I don't want to live in a society where the holocaust may happen again. I don't want to live in a society where genocide is acceptable.

I think that too many fanatics have lived for too long in this country and this should be cracked down upon. Such as the Muslim priest who lives in our country, under out protection, being protected by our police and laws while telling his young boys to kill the very people who are protecting them.

I think a real priest tries to save lives not end them. With the current climate you might well understand why I am part of the largest philosophy in this country. Being a law abiding atheist.

  • 444.
  • At 12:17 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Rosa Tray wrote:

gillian wells, I note that you don't comment upon the disgraceful conduct of Tariq Ramadan in the Newsnight interview - he overtalked and shouted whenever opposition to his views was voiced.

Mr Murray had good points to make, but Ramadan did his ghastly best to try to stop him making them. Ms Wells, you are naive in the extreme if you believe that sharia can be implemented in part. It is a total or totalitarian belief system which militates against the human rights of women.

Hischam Khan, why should not Muslims who live here abide by the same laws as we do? Anyone and everyone can call for "change" but much depends upon the way in which they call for it. More often than not, "change" is demanded by Muslim spokesmen (who probably don't represent the views of the Muslim population of Britain) to accommodate them, rather than suggested by Muslim spokesmen as ways for constructive working together.

I suggest that this exaggerated sense of entitlement given out by their spokesmen which results in the attitudes to Muslims which you describe. They should get themselves better spokesmen and women.

  • 445.
  • At 12:39 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • christine baaki wrote:

The archbishop should be focuses on the uk and our believes. Government are trying to get rid of terorists and Archy is talking about islam laws. There is no place for Islam laws here.

  • 446.
  • At 01:00 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • mohammad wrote:


The ABC is simply saying that it is to the benefit of society at large (and in this case, the British Nation) that its citizens should be empowered to function HOLISTICALLY. As a religious man he is asserting that our reliance on man made laws alone can prove to be shortsighted,therefore limiting...in terms of individuals fulfilling their potential. His thoughts extend to all religious groups.

Examples of benefits of a Sharia Court to the British society:

1. In case of Muslim men abusing the system by claiming benefit for their FOUR wives (as is alleged to be commonly happening within the Muslim community):

Well, Sharia Law FORBIDS a man to marry if he cannot look after his wife (leave alone FOUR wives). Basically if you do not work (and earn) you do not marry. Of course this is my understanding of the injunction, and others may have a different understanding...and this is not helpful. Therefore there is a role for a Sharia Court to instruct and advise as to how this injunction may be applied and/or respected in the British context for the benefit of all.

2. In case of professionals dealing with some Muslims (e.d hospital staff, lawyers, housing etc) there are currently widespread confusing and even sometimes wrong assumptions of Muslims and their behaviours.This is so because of the absence of an authority, as it were, to say once and for all, what is and what is not Islamic, e.g. the current assumption in certain quarters that muslims should marry their cousins. An authoritative voice on this subject would be a valuable reference for any person (muslim or not).
The ABC is therefore right to say that a Sharia Court is the best answer to keep a check on such traditional practices, if they exist at all.The institution of such courts would help to clear the atmosphere and be a vital stepstone towards community cohesion. without such institution the Muslim bashing and Muslim marginalisation will carry on, to the detriment of the British society at large, something that people like Trevor Phillip fail to recognise.

Thank you Archbishop for reciprocating the wishes of Muslims in this country to live in cohesion.

Perhaps the most difficult task ahead for the Archbishop and likeminded citizens of this country will be "win the hearts and minds" of those who are so fearful and paranoid.

Mohammad

  • 447.
  • At 01:05 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Norman Dennis wrote:

Would it be a good thing if aspects of Islamic law were to be made the law to which large areas of Bradford, Southall or Leicester had to comply? Who would decide what bits should apply—non-Muslim Parliamentarians, imams, or who? Who would gain and who would lose? On this last point, the Archbishop would have to arive at his own clear opinion at some stage. Why he did not work out what his opinion was before he spoke is a mystery. Instead, he comes out with subversive 1970s babble called “deconstuctionism”—still going strong in some university departments and in organisations like the Church of England that take thirty years before they modernise their thought, i.e. before they climb onto the collapsing bandwagon that started rolling when its Bishops and Archbishops were impressionable students. He therefore does not say anything as clear as, “sharia law is repressive to women”, or “sharia law is not oppressive to women”. He doesn’t even say that “this or that body of influential people in the Muslim community now read the texts in such a way that sharia law is applied in such a way that it is repressive to women” (or not) He says, “what most people think they know about sharia is that it is repressive to women”. Most people only “think they know” it—that’s standard deconstuctionism. But slipped in is the idea that most people here are hoi polloi. They are under the influence of “sensational reporting”. Beginning a discussion with a deconstructionist or a post-modernist is the best guarantee possible that no conclusion whatsoever will ever be reached, because their intellectual position is precisely that one person’s "reading" is just good as anybody else’s, including his reading of a given situation, i.e. his culture. (The practical result is that it does not matter what the empirical facts are, or what a document or book actually says, they need never budge from their position. Even people like Jeremy Paxman defer, and say, “Well, I’m no intellectual, so I suppose he must be talking sense”.) Quite inconsistently with the deconstructionist and post-modernist mind-set, but absolutely typical of deconstructionists and post-modernists, when it suits them they present us with “facts”. On this occasion, we are presented with the fact that there are already Church of England courts and Jewish courts. The inarticulate premiss is that these courts are the same as sharia courts in respect of the matters under discussion. In respect of the matters under discussion, these courts are not all alike. Church of England courts and Jewish courts simply reinforce the law of the land. They abide by the same criteria as British law, differing only in their application of higher standards. Proud assimilation into a society they had every reason once to greatly admire, while keeping intact all they hold dear in their own culture and religion, has long been the consensual philosophy of British Jewry. But the Archbishop has now introduced the pernicious and false parallel into the discussion. I’ve heard in the past few hours ordinary people making the point about Jewish courts, and automatically siding with “fairness” and “equality”. But equality and fairness are matters of treating the same things in the same way, not treating different things in the same way. The spokesman for the Archbishop on last night’s Newsnight pushed his insulting case to the limit: that the only possible objectors to what the Archbishop has said are people who have not read his lecture, or are too stupid to understand it. Meanwhile, those people who do have profound changes they want to introduce into British society are just getting on with the business by any means necessary.

  • 448.
  • At 01:23 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Muhindo Nasson wrote:

The reaction is absolutely islamaphobic. Some elements of the SHARIA law are very important in moral upbringing of the youth and harmony in marriages. However, issues to do with punishments and prosecution are really non applicable in a democratic setting. I believe the Archbishop did not defend all but a few of the elements in the SHARIA law. DIFFERENT COLOURS - ONE PEOPLE. We should respect even the minority groups but not allow them to influence our indigenous values.

  • 449.
  • At 02:05 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • carol byrne wrote:

It was so heartening to see Douglas Murray from the Centre of Social Cohesion on the programme last night
His contribution was cogent and brave.

At 61, I am of that generation of women who fought for equal opportunities and rights in this society - not only for women - but for other minority groups as well, and for greater tolerance and openness.

It is frightening and depressing to see these hard won rights placed in jeopardy by our lack of conviction in addressing the archaic practices of a faith that turns its back on modernity.

What price the rights of my daughter and grandaughters, or of my female Muslim friends and neighbours if Sharia law becomes an option of our legal system? And the rights of gay men and women and of other minority groups? The rights of well meaning teachers who offend in the naming of a child's toy? Of free thinking graphic artists to express their views? Of anyone who criticises the faith or its prophet?

We have come to take our rights for granted and it seems it's time we acted to protect them.

Would it be possible to pass legislation insisting that all religious marriage ceremonies are required to be accompanied by a civil ceremony that protects the rights of both parties under British law?

If the Muslim community really cares about its female members, how can it object to this unless it insists on importing the practice of polygamy? If it does so insist, then let's be quite clear that the men and women in polygamous marriages, unsanctioned by British law, are cohabiting only, and as such are subject to British law in relation to their chosen domestic arrangements. If women are victimised by this, then the blame can be attributed clearly to the Islamic community. Really worrying, yes, but at least it will be out there for all to see.

And let's insist upon women's rights under British law being taught to all pupils in all schools, including faith schools, as a compulsory part of the curriculum for at least 30 hours in year 10. Heads to send the course outline home to all parents with a clear directive that the module is not optional.

This issue is not really about the merit - or the lack of merit - of sharia law. It is about the central position of British law.

This country has been through centuries of many and often painful processes in order to achieve the current secular legal system which transcends religious differences. The introduction of even subtle variations on religious grounds would probably be a disservice to all.

The number of foreign nationals who wish to live and work here is testament to the fact that this is one of the most attractive countries in which to live. Its appeal is due to many factors, and one of these is British law.

It is important that the various religious and ethnic groups that make up our multicultural society strive to maintain their own traditions. That can only enrich us all. It is important too, that alongside these traditions, we all adopt the values and laws of the country in which we choose to make our home.

These values and laws are what we all have in common over and above our cultural differences. We should cherish them for what they are. They are one of the reasons we are here.

  • 451.
  • At 02:30 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Harry wrote:

Congratulations to the Anglican Archbishop and the BBC for stirring up a bout of nationalist hysteria over the a phantom threat presented by Muslim Sharia law.

It seems the Archbishop wanted the pre-publicity for his speech, and according to Paxman he selected his BBC interviewer. The BBC wanted sensational headlines and selectively reported parts of the interview on Thursday to give the impression that the Anglican Archbishop was proposing a parallel legal jurisdiction (rather than a supplementary jurisdiction such as what exists for Jews to to rule their own affairs).

It was the Archbishop's idle stirring and the BBC's sensationalised reporting that caused the outbreak of national hysteria, even before the newspapers had even added to it, BBC1's Question Time and the previous edition of Newsnight lead with it too. So Newsnight spins another programme out of it, marvelling over the strength of the public's reaction, and hyping the non-issue even more by devoting the whole of Friday's show to a non-event. This was only feeding hysteria with talk of Sharia as a 'threat to British culture' and the indignant outrage supplied by the 'Centre for Social Cohesion'.

Doubtless it will lead again on Radio4 and Radio5 phone-ins, and be rehashed at length in the papers over the weekend. It's the Aunty Beeb 'agenda-setting' for a spurious 'national debate'.

The invitation to the Douglas Murray of the 'Centre for Social Cohesion' seems cynical at best, sinister at worst. This 'Centre' has no standing to deserve being given such undue prominence to propagate it's extreme and divisive views on these matters.

The Centre for Social Cohesion was founded only last year as a subsidiary of another right wing think-tank, 'Civitas'. On its 'Advisory Council' sit the former Archbishop of Canterbury Carey, the Bishop of Rochester who was recently claiming that Muslim 'no-go areas' exist in the UK on the back of a Centre for Social Cohesion pamphlet about honour killings. Baroness Cox, who appeared in the report billed as the author of 'Islam, Islamism and the West' is also on the same Advisory Panel, and the pamphlet she authored is published by 'Civitas'. See http://www.socialcohesion.co.uk/pubs/aboutus.php

The association between Douglas Murray and Baroness Cox through this 'Centre for Social Cohesion', and the role of senior Anglican clergy in supporting it were never reported to the viewers. Instead he was given the chance to harangue a far more learned Muslim professor, and a dozy old liberal bishop.

The whole affair seems to have been contrived to cause a bout of national hysteria in defence of 'British values', between the senior Anglican clergy, the BBC News & Current Affairs dept, and the neo-conservative, 'Judeo-Christian' chauvinists who through think-tanks as fronts for their propagandist 'reports' and 'studies'.

The Archbishop said much less than impression given by the BBC, he can tip-toe away back to his reserved seat within the establishment. The BBC get sensational news to report, and the Judeo-Christian chauvinists from the 'Social Cohesion' lobby get a platform to spin their propaganda. Meanwhile, most British people are bewildered by what's reported, and some rendered more fearful and angry because of the putative threat to 'British values'.

The people who suffer because of it are ordinary Muslims who have to deal with the hostility and suspicion this creates. It must be getting more and more unpleasant to be a Muslim in Britain. Week after week some minister of the state or clergyman of it's established church sticks their boot in to feed this hysterical fear of Muslims as an alien threat to 'British culture' and 'British values'.

Last year 'Social Cohesion' was the cause for Jack Straw to give the green light for veil-rage, now it's Paxman asking us 'What do we do about a problem like Sharia?'

If 'social cohesion' entails embracing the values of Douglas Murray [backed by Baroness Cox and assorted Anglican bishops], or the feeble-minded liberalism of the Archbishop of Canterbury, count me out.

  • 452.
  • At 03:06 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Tomas wrote:

i think the media love to jump up and down whenever islam is being talked about. People suggesting that woen are second class citizens in Sharia is totally wrong they have more rights than they have in our British Law and also when we talk about Sharia law dosen't allow gays and lesbians nor does The Roman Catholic Church but no one says anything about that. Last but not least we also say Sharia dosen't allow sex outside marriage nor does The Roman Catholic Church but no one jumps up and down about that

  • 453.
  • At 03:26 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • mark wrote:

why should the most intolerant religion in the world be allowed to bring its medieval rules and laws to this country?

Islam needs to grow up and turn the clock forward 1400 years and join the 21st century. No special treatment,no more fatwa's, no more riots at the drop of a hat about nothing, you need to prove you can fit in with civilisation like most everyone else can.


  • 454.
  • At 03:47 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Claire Campbell wrote:

I do not think that the Archbishop's comments should be dismissed so easily. People often equate Sharia Law with people, particularly women, being stoned for adultery and call it a barbaric system. I just remember that is wasn't all that long ago that WE had hanging as part of our laws.

Would it not be worth looking at the individual legal systems first and actually seeing what they are really saying first before we throw the bady out with the bathwater. I know it's a totally scandelous thought but just maybe other types of legal systems have something that could enhance our own.

What about running the various systems in tandem with each other, so a divorce in a Sharia court is also a legal divorce in the UK legal system?

I'd like to know more details about how the various legal systems of the different religious groups work before I cry 'foul'.

Yes, I live in the UK, and yes, I was born a UK Citizen as were my parents etc back as far as I can trace, and while I uphold the UK legal system it doesn't mean that I have to be blind to other systems to be truely British. I feel like it has become illegal to even admit that there might just be merit in other ways of practising law.

  • 455.
  • At 03:53 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Tomas wrote:

what do you no about tolerance 'mark' Islam was one of the earliest civilizations in the world even your own archbishop recognises that however, ignorant journalists and media broadcasters love to jump when Islam is involved so i suggest you learn more about Islam before you open your big gob!

  • 456.
  • At 04:31 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • James wrote:

Just had to say Bravo to C Souter, No 402 above.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks Paxman is losing it, big time?

  • 457.
  • At 04:37 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Melanie wrote:

I watched the Newsnight report on Thursday where a Muslim Cleric claimed that Sharia should be given credence and that plural marriage which is accepted in Sharia should even be encouraged so that women would not be left to be 'unmarried, or prostitutes'
Am i the only person alarmed that intrinsicly sexist dogma like this should be welcomed in a country that claims to treat women equally?, that cleric obviously see's unmarried women as some sort of second class citizen, and giving Sharia some sort of legal acceptance will allow sexist religious thought like this some sort of social acceptability, when it should not.
I am already completely fed up of PC Brits claiming that peoples religious and cultural feelings should be treated with respect yet i constantly see that impacting on women, with us approaching a point of institutional sexism that is accepted because it is part of a man's religious persuasion.

  • 458.
  • At 04:48 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Sani wrote:

Times change an so do people! The Arch Bishop is one of the revered people of the world not just a Britton. Life is dynamic and should be open to reasonable statements and not arguements, I believe his statement is reasonable.

  • 459.
  • At 05:26 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Hannah Nunn wrote:

In response to 430.
Yes. Somalia.
There was peace and stability in that country under the Islamic Courts for the first time in over a decade, before the US marched the Ethiopian military in, causing chaos last year.
Why did they do that? Because they are just as Islamophobic in the US as people in this country.

  • 460.
  • At 05:49 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Charles Naish wrote:

British law already accommodates a variety of religious needs from many different beliefs.
It seems astonishing that raising the possibility of ensuring that where possible this should apply to Islamic religious practices has brought out the worst in not only tabloid journalists but also in the television coverage of the comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
I cannot be the only person to watch Newsnight with dismay as someone called Douglas Murray laughingly representing something called the “Centre for Social Cohesion” presented such an extreme view. If he is typical of its membership it should be called “The Centre for Social Breakdown”.
The fact that the other parties to this discussion on Newsnight were talked down by him with apparent support and glee from Jeremy Paxman only serves to encourage divisiveness, which most good people from any religious background would try to discourage.
If any person involved in the various public statements about this matter seriously believe that the Archbishop is proposing to turn back the clock and have executions, dismembering and the loss of rights to women they must be living in some parallel universe. In order for ‘our’ country to claim to be “multi cultural” we must consider all its citizens and never consign any one group to a separate existence since to do this only ever provides the platform for extremist activity.

  • 461.
  • At 06:14 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Tom wrote:

The most telling issue and the saddest is the phobia and ignorance that the Archbishops lecture have triggered. Nothing embodies tis more than Mr. Murray on Nesnight last night. Rude, brash, prematurely arrogant, biggotted and nauseating.

Why do you automatically assume that there is such a thing as 'Islamophobia'?

  • 463.
  • At 07:19 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Bill wrote:

References here have been made to the impregnation of British law, but surely we are already subject to European law? Our independence has been surrendered, and it is not impossible for European law at some stage to embrace some aspects of Sharia law, which we will have to accept. For example, Turkey, which could accede, is secular but there are to be concessions to Sharia in their law, as reported only this week.

  • 464.
  • At 07:43 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Hannah Nunn wrote:

In response to 463.
Islamophobia is the only term in common currency which is used to describe the (all too common) phenomena of violent and ignorantly fearful reactions displayed by the press and a large section of the public at any mention of anything relating to Islam or people of the Muslim faith.

  • 465.
  • At 07:57 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Richard Michael Boyden wrote:

Anything that is good can be accepted. If Sharia law recognises that cow protection and ox power form the bottom line in sustainable living, then that must be accepted.
The Absolute Truth is universal. If British law is not based on the Absolute Truth, then on what is it based? The same goes for Sharia law.
If you do not want to deal with the Absolute Truth, then you must relegate your search to the world of relativity, in which concrete answers are totally lacking.

  • 466.
  • At 08:42 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

Newsnight last night:
B = Biased
B = Bigoted
C = Conceited

Professor Ramadan was not given the opportunity to discuss or counter the points proffered by the odious Mr. Murray.

From my take on yesterday's 'debate' Professor Ramadan at least presented a rationale position that the majority of Muslims do not want Sharia law...storm in a nationalist tea cup.

BOGUS MACHIAVELLI

“A Prince whose people are indolent and indifferent, and whose authority is challenged by an alien doctrine, can thwart subversion by making confused utterances that convince his gullible people it is THEY who are under threat. If this is done by apparent suggestion that “the alien doctrine might be espoused” the Prince may seem a fool; but small price for the masking of his “malice aforethought”. The people will rise up and do his work unbidden. Better, always, a fool with honour, than a knave without.”

  • 468.
  • At 10:29 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Margaret wrote:

It is interesting to read the above comments and I note the apparently widespread belief that Tariq Ramadan was unfairly treated by Jeremy Paxman.
This was not the impression I had. If I recall correctly, Mr Ramadan was the first to be asked a question and he then launched into a long piece of elegant spin but made no attempt to answer the question. His intention was clearly to keep going for as long as possible and to take up all the programme time available for himself. He ignored several polite cues from Mr Paxman to allow someone else to speak and in the end Mr Paxman had to get more forceful. The programme was disappointing. Perhaps it could have succeeded had there been a lot more time available for discussion, a more varied range of interviewees (the bishop was an idiot), and pre-set limits to the ranting/spinning time allocated to each. Perhaps a bell should have rung at the end of each round, as in a boxing match? Mr Paxman could have done with some gloves himself in his role as official referee.

  • 469.
  • At 10:39 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Matt wrote:

Britain is not 'phobic, it is a comparatively tolerant society which has made itself home to a diverse range of peoples. However I think the vast majority of British people sense a slippery slope over Sharia. The AoCs clumsy ideas simply triggered those concerns to rise to the surface.

  • 470.
  • At 10:41 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • WM wrote:

If one were to read the Archbishops transcripts from The World at One site you will note that He did not declare that Sharia Law be introduced in all aspects of British Law, British Society & be imposed on all. Quite simply He stressed the need for debate which in most circumstances will bring forth better understanding. He Says:-


"So I think we need to look at this with a clear eye and not imagine either that we know exactly what we mean by Sharia and just associate it with what we read about Saudi Arabia, or whatever."


Is a religious leader not allowed to debate with his people? Is He not allowed to reach out to all types of communities, religions and promote better understanding? Is a religious head of the country not allowed to comment on issues he sees around him?

The Archbishop should be commended for bringing forth discussion to the masses and getting people talking about religion and the variance in different religions.


But what's actually happened is mass hysteria and scare mongering! From the transcripts it is quite clear He is not calling for change in the Legal System, but to simply discuss how the Legal system can accommodate Muslims better in this country in regards to marriage disputes etc. Clearly he has outlined how the extreme elements should be avoided at all costs, but the majority of Muslims who are law abiding citizens should in certain circumstances have choice, after all isn't the secular society we live testament to freedom of choice?


Finally Newsnight and its presenters who seem to have a certain disdain to any form of religious discussion should at all times be impartial…afterall they are presenters. A presenter's job is not to side with individuals they feel comfortable with but remain impartial at all times. Jemry Paxman who was quite clearly not impartial with what the Bishop and Mr Ramazan had to say, was siding with Dogulas Murry and consistently allowing Mr Murry to interrupt and bring forth views of radicals who quite simply do not represent British Muslims, just like the BNP do not represent British people. Moreover the BBC who are funded by a government levy should do better in representing the population at large especially on contentious issues like religion.

If it is Islamophobic to oppose the barbarism of Shari'a law then yes, I am an Islamophobe!

  • 472.
  • At 01:17 AM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • shabana wrote:

The Bishop wanted an informed debate - but the media presented as the fact that the implementation of Shariah Law was 'unavoidable'.
Muslislm are a minority in thsi country and the way they are treaed is abismal - the press are scarmongering. If a mulsim is askig to live by Islamic law in marriges, divorce, food clothing matters then why does society have an problem witht that? the reaction of the free society has been one of intlerance.

Ironically - muslim do wnat shariah law implemented inthe muslim word but are prevented from establishing the caliphate - because the westersn governmnets are happy to suppoet dictators like Islam Karimove of Uzbekistan and Musharraf of Pakistan. Also in Iraq and Afghansitan it is the westers leadership that is enforcing secular regimes upon the muslim world. Hence it is certailnly not the muslim who are imposing their system upon the west rathere it the western gobernments what are imposing thire vision and values onthe rest of the world.

  • 473.
  • At 02:35 AM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Nancy Blake wrote:

There are several issues at stake here.
1. The difference between a liberal and a totalitarian legal system. Hannah Arendt explains that difference in her book 'The Origins of Totalitarianism' A liberal legal system such as we have in Britain, forbids or prescribes certain specific actions. You must not exceed the speed limit. You must pay your TV license. In the spaces between the legistative specifications, you are free to choose. You can drive at any speed below the speed limit, as long as you are obeying traffic laws and considering safety. As long as you pay what you are legally obliged to pay, you can decide what to do with the rest of your money. Also, we have freedom of religion, to believe and practice what we choose, within the limits of the legal system (we would not tolerate human sacrifice, for example).
Totalitarian systems, by contrast, regulate every area of life: there are no spaces for choice within a totalitarian legal framework.
In an article on the BBC website, Sharia law was described as one which regulates every aspect of life - as though this were something in it's favour - but this fits Arendt's description of a totalitarian system.

2. Political correctness refers basically to the practice of judging individuals on their merits (for example, their skills in relation to performing particular jobs) and not generalising negatively on the basis of gender, race, or religion. It also refers to avoiding insulting or derogatory comments and judgements based on generalisations about gender, race and religion.
Being politically correct should not include tolerating behaviour which is illegal, inhumane, or which violates human rights, and neither gender, race, nor religion should be used as an excuse for acts which are illegal, inhumane, or which violate human rights.
It was this common mis-application of the idea of 'tolerance', 'political correctness' which, for example, long delayed including female genital mutilation within the legal category of child abuse. The laws regarding child abuse should have been unhesitatingly applied to this appallingly cruel and dangerous practice, even though it is 'the culture' across many parts of the world.

3. A phobia is an irrational fear. The fear that women have of the application of Sharia law is perfectly rational. The liberal press assure us that the Archbishop was considering applications of Sharia law 'only'(!) in domestic and financial matters. We are then informed that under Sharia law, a marriage can be validated even if there are no witnesses, that a divorce can take place automatically if the man wishes it, but that a woman cannot divorce without her husband's consent 'unless she can prove he is impotent', 'in which case, she will not have to pay back the dowry'. We are also assured that Muslims would have the choice of using Sharia law or British law.

The Archbishop is described as intelligent and wise, and learned. It is hard to believe that a person of even modest intelligence and learning would be unable to notice a certain imbalance of power for women under Sharia law as described above, (the source being today's Guardian).
How easy, one wonders, would it be for a woman to persuade her husband to agree to using the British courts; to agree to a divorce at all; and how, precisely, would she go about 'proving' her husband's impotence? This after a marriage to which there were no witnesses, in a situation where the man's word would be taken as the truth, against hers.

No, it isn't a phobia, and it isn't directed against Muslims; it is a very realistic fear of and objection to a system of law which virtually enslaves women. And which, judging by many of the comments on this blog, is rejected by many Muslims especially Muslim women.

Human rights have been enshrined in law for the benefit of every individual, and must override any creed, cultural practice or 'legal' system at any point where those creeds, practices and systems violate those fundamental rights.

  • 474.
  • At 05:23 AM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

The simple answer to your question is no.
We pretend to not be afraid of Islam and all the supposed benefits it brings to our Muslim friends.
Sadly though all we see, hear, and experience, regardless of promises to the contrary is fear !
Rowan Williams must be as scary a sight to a young Muslim, as the fifty women clad in black Bhurka's are to a middle aged, married, christian, disabled man in a wheelchair, as they pour out of Uxbridge college at 3:30 on a week day and saunter past me.
I am of course unworthy to look upon them.

  • 475.
  • At 08:29 AM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

There is ONE law of the UK - thats so so so simple - lets see now - UK LAW ! End of story. I am fed up, like many others, that the focus of too many well meaning indiviuals is on pampering ALL THE TIME to the minority. This ethos has brought this country to a place where indeed we appear confused in what we believe and want. The Archbishop has created fear and worry across the land, people are threatened by his comments. Tensions are high and it has been seen so often that extremem fear can overflow to violence on the streets if people and their values are threatened . He has not thought about the downstream reaction to his somewhat extreme views, he acted in a manner which increases confusion and should resign immediately.

  • 476.
  • At 10:13 AM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

David (#463) "Why do you automatically assume that there is such a thing as 'Islamophobia'?"

As there is 'anti-Semitism' there has to be 'Islamophobia'. It's a means whereby enclaves clobber their host out-group (as well as each other) ;-)

  • 477.
  • At 02:49 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

Of course there is such a thing as Islamophobia. And it is perfectly understandable. A phobia is not a bias or an objection to something. It is a fear of it.

Of course tube users in London and commuters in Madrid have a certain anxiety. It is not the philosophy or faith that worries people, it is the understanding that there are people out there who prefer to bomb rather than talk in order to make their point.

It is not wrong to fear something, it is most certainly wrong to instill fear into people who mean you no harm.

  • 478.
  • At 03:05 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • John Wilson wrote:

One cannot totally remove Kangaroo courts that exist in some religious organisations but we cannot accept any laws that only apply to some and not all in our society. IF the Archbishop meant something specific he should be clear in his words - that's his job.


  • 479.
  • At 03:38 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Keith wrote:

While I am all for freedom of religion (So long as it does no harm), the old adage, "When in Rome, do as Rome does!" comes to mind. Divisive law could lead to a myriad of problems and inequality. I would not expect another country to bend to my way of doing things. Going to another country is a CHOICE, and you choose their laws. If you disagree with them, fair enough, I disagree with some laws. I'm not denying anyone a right to an opinion BUT the country shouldn't bend to other religions.

If Muslims choose to come to the UK, then they should accept our law. Again I have no problem with them practicing their religion, if it harm none.

How far do you take this? How many religions are there? If we differ practice of law for each of them we will end up with a judicial mess.

  • 480.
  • At 04:07 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Debate has little to do with this. The Lisbon Treaty's FCHR article 10 makes the practice of Islam a right, and that includes Shari'a law (to the extent that it oes not conflict with others British/EU law), just as Orthodox Judaism includes Halakha.

What this comes down to is whether any of the Islamic duties conflict with non-Muslims' rights. Legally, this is interesting is it not? The FCHR (and Lisbon Treaty) is a can of worms.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2008/02/friday_8_february_2008_1.html

Let's have less of the nonsense about beheading, stoning, amputations etc. This would be at odds with British law, as would many of the other behaviours which many (legally illiterate) people are irrationally fearing.

  • 481.
  • At 05:54 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

# 481. Adrienne -

I don't thing anyone is seriously suggesting that stoning, beheading or amputation would become part of the culture. What is far more worrying is the nature of offences. Codes of dress is a very good example. Are we seriously suggesting that there is a case for Muslim women to be punished for wearing jeans and a tee shirt?

This arguement is becoming rediculous. The western tradition is one of freedom of choice. Of course this includes the freedom of Muslims or any adherents to any other religion or philosophy to observe their own standards. What it clearly does not do is require changes in law which are decriminatory simply to accommodate the needs of a relatively small proportion of the population.

When westerners go to the Middle East, as many do, they understand that a certain standard of behaviour is required. For the most part, they comply. It cannot be unreasonable to ask that those who live in the west show a similar degree of respect.

  • 482.
  • At 05:59 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Alison Cruickshank wrote:

Adrienne,

You stated "Let's have less of the nonsense about beheading, stoning, amputations etc. This would be at odds with British law........"

Can you please explain where the fairness that a man has to 'allow' his wife to divorce him unless she can prove that he is impotent? Would this not 'be at odds' with British Law?

Adrienne, you are very correct in the Lisbon Treaty. Europe's interference with the UK and it's laws has helped turn it into the chaos it currently is.
It is unfortunately naive people like you who honestly believe that Sharia Law WILL NOT, once introduced into the UK, metamorphosise into the Sharia it is in other countries.

Last but not least, The Jewish people in the UK have integrated very well into our society, we in fact don't hear anything about them. However there are those 'extreme' muslims who have already committed acts of attrocity against British people at home and abroad because we will not curtail to their belief system. You are very quick to forget this.

  • 483.
  • At 06:14 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

By the way, a phobia is defined by the Department of Health as follows: 'A phobia is a constant, extreme or irrational fear of an animal, object, place or situation that wouldn't normally worry the majority of people'.

I see no reference to political or religious preference in that definitition. I do, however take note of the phrase 'extreme or irrational'.

Perhaps a better understanding of the language might help to unmuddy the waters?

  • 484.
  • At 07:05 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

#483 Alison Cruickshank.

But Alison, you are making my point for me. The Lisbon Treaty is a part of a political process between like minded people whose differences are ones of emphasis. You may not like the process or the outcome but that is the reality.

The differences between the western world and that of Islam are not political. They are moral and philosophical.

You further confuse the situation by introducing Jewish issues. It simply is not the case that this community is 'Jewish'. They are British people who have chosen to follow that religious path. All strength to their arm. It is absolutely their right to do so. All any sensible person asks is that the Muslim community does the same. Live here and accept the rule of law or depart in peace.

  • 485.
  • At 10:19 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

The law will deal with each issue as a test case (not that most of the public will appreciate this), and clearly has been doing just this over recent years (i.e. this is already happening as it should). Where citizens feel their FCHR rights are being infringed they will take it to the European Court if the courts do not uphold them here. Britishness is on the wane, as is nationalism in general. That's what the Lisbon Treaty is all about - denationalisation.

Demographics are what count here.
In liberal democracies (e.g. our parliamentary democracy), elected representatives of the people are responsible debating and ultimately voting on the stages which legislation passes through, before it reaches the statue books. Those laws determine how society is managed, and those who decide the content are elected by their constituents. Note the demographic trend. Projected London demographics for the next few decades tell us that over 99% of London's population growth will be in BME groups (mainly Muslim for reasons given elsewhere in this blog over recent months). London is but one of about a dozen Regional Assemblies, whereby New labour and the EU plan to 'devolve' power and put more into the hands of 'the people'. But who will those people be in 30 years? Essentially one has to look at the below replacement level TFR of the indigenous White British, many of whom may well love their Human Rights, but appear determined to deprive some of their invited residents of theirs ;-). The majority of the indigenous population is secular these days, and they are, like it or not headed for genetic extinction.

I suggest that those who think it's worth 'arguing' about this take a long look at the numbers, and give this matter more careful thought.

For example, Tower Hamlets in East London, is already about 23% White British at aged 7. 75% of London LAs are 50% or under White British at this age. School SAT performance (an IQ proxy) of the Muslims, like that of the Black Africans and Black Caribbeans, is below national average, and whilst Muslims are currently UNDER represented in crime, if they're secularised, that may well push the crime rate up, given what we know of the relationship between cognitive ability and criminogenic risk.

As to the Jewish community having assimilated....don't equate what isn't noticed with what's the case. Suffice it to say that a brief perusal of the 'dodgy donors' fiasco in recent times, and other statistics bearing on proportionality in the House of Lords and elsewhere, should lay that myth to rest. Otherwise, explain these departures from what is statistically expected. Furthermore, which nation's interests are being served by 'islamophobia'? Look more critically at the polemical behaviour of 'Policy Exchange' and 'The Centre for Social Cohesion'.

Naive indeed .......;-).

  • 486.
  • At 12:20 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Alison Cruickshank wrote:

Adrienne (#486)

The Lisbon Treaty has been created as you have said to de-Nationalise the UK and other countries. The creation of the Euro is the first step in the greying out of the world, meaning a communist/socialist state where everyone is the same as are the views of Gordon Brown.

But let us not divulge from the argument on the Lisbon Treaty as we are discussing Sharia in the UK.

Anyone with even a Labour education can see that the future demographics of the UK will be far different from they are now and yes, the Celtic/Germanic heritage of the indigenous people here in the UK will dissappear. It is commone sense to realise that the fastest growing religion is Islam and the people in Society who have the most children are from Muslim families. Then take into consideration immigration from Asian and African countries as well as Eastern European and then there are more Muslims arriving on these shores.

I am very perplexed at your argument though.
You stated:

".......indigenous White British, many of whom may well love their Human Rights, but appear determined to deprive some of their invited residents of theirs"

Human rights are not automatic Adrienne as everyone would like to think. Human Rights are only really practiced in civilised worlds and of course it was Europe who invented them.
Why should we give human rights to those who do not believe in them. Human rights are benefits of those who choose to live in a civilised society.
From the flow of the conversation I am assuming that you feel that we in the UK, the white ones, are depriving our Muslim migrants their human rights because they want to practice their laws and the way they live in their own lands here?
Adrienne, I called you naive because you are. You are basing the fact that we should give human rights especially to Muslims(Sharia Law in this case) who have no respect whatsoever of the Human Rights of others. Moreso, you seem to forget that upon entering the UK is like entering someone's house and you must respect the laws of the housekeeper.
It has been said many times in arguments such as these that if I go to another country I respect their way of life. In fact, if I go to any Muslim country and do not dress accordingly then I will face the full force of their Sharia Law. I take notice of learning of other cultures' beliefs and practices before I go so as not to get myself in hot water because I know if I don't, the British Consulate of that country will ask me if I did not educate myself before coming.

We have a clear cut case of immigrants coming to this country not respecting our way of life. The odd thing about British Society compared to Islamic Countries is that there really are no rules to follow, apart from the obvious, but we have very relaxed views on drinking, speaking, dressing etc etc as you well know.
So in all reality, coming to the UK means that you can live however you choose to live as long as it doesn't infringe on British Way of Life.

The fact that Muslims want to live here as they do back home and have their own laws for their own people does infringe on British Society as we already have a law system here already to deal with everything.

The crime level in this country is down to bad government and nothing to do with religion. Poor education, removing parental controls of discipline etc etc has led to the chaos and unruly youth as we have today. This is down the the dwindling years of the Conservatives and then continued by the Labour party, most notably, the do gooder, liberal, left.
By saying that if Muslim youth becomes secularised then it is highly likely they will push up the crime rate but not because they can't have Sharia Law but because they would become part of this badly failing society being destroyed daily by Labour.

Finally Adrienne, while I am not speaking about the majority of Islam in the UK, there is a minority, especially in their youth, angered by the government war in Iraq who are very much Anti UK.
I know of no jewish person in this country who is prepared to fight and kill British people, do you?
This is what I was implying.

This whole affair of Sharia Law has got to this state because of Islam's behaviour here in the UK and around the rest of the World. When I state Islam I mean those people doing bad things in the name of Islam.
Do I have to name people such as Abu Hamza, Saajid Badat(the shoe bomber),Hasib Hussain, Mohammad Sidique Khan, Germaine Lindsay Shehzad Tanweer all collectively known as the 4 London 7/7 Suicide Bombers?

Had the above not done what they had here in the UK, there would not be the anti-Islamic feel there is here in the UK. It is not Islamaphobia, this word doesn't exist as people have a very rational fear of Islam(the above assailants for example, to name but a few) in today's age and a phobia is an irrational one. You unfortunatley lower your intelligence Adrienne, by jumping on the Islamaphobia bandwagon when like the word racist, should not exist in today's society. Islamaphobia is simply a made up name, with no meaning, created by those who feel oppressed and to subjugate those who they feel are oppressing them. Islam like Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Bhuddism etc etc. is a religion, an ideology and no more real than the Gods of the Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Polynesian, Myan, Aztec, American Indian and Egyptian Pantheons.

How could a civilised society like the UK even dream of allowing Sharia Law, given it's track record in the World?

And Adrienne, you are very naive, because you can't see the wood from teh trees if you honestly believe what you do about Sharia Law and human rights. As I have stated human rights are not universal like some may believe. Human Rights are only there amongst civilisations who recognise them and there are many, many countries in this world, especially Islamic ones who do not.
To give Human Rights to people who do not recognise them is a very stupid thing to do. You are realistically, handing a loaded gun to your future assasin.

Islam must realise that it should be doing its best to integrate within our society adn Sharia Law is one step back from Integration.

  • 487.
  • At 08:45 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Alison (#487) I understand why you're perplexed, but have a closer look at the legal and demographic facts, and logically analyse within the law alone. Statistics show that Muslims are more law abiding than the average non-Muslim (White) Briton, and Human Rights come with EU citizenship... despite what you believe, these rights do come automatically.

UK Muslims are British citizens.

On another point, a war is being fought much furher afield over all of this. China is a member of the pact (essentially a Stalinist state with an NEP, which has passed eugenics legislation at odds with the FCHR). Like the former USSR, it isn't Islamic, but it's citizens are duty bound (like many citizens in the CIS are). To see this the Archibishop's speech in its proper context one has to look at the demographic war which is being fought over Palestine-Israel (and perhaps 'the Great Game'). Secular UK citizens, like US citizens, are largely just electoral fodder in all of this, and the post WWII 'UN' Human Rights movement just a hegemonic tool.

  • 488.
  • At 11:24 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • anthony roberts wrote:

i must say that Donald Murray was a breath of fresh air - for once we had someone prepared to present the views of the vast majority of people in these islands in an intelligent and forthright manner.Normally muslims and their apologists are allowed a very easy ride in such debates - congratulations Jeremy for allowing the rest of us to have a say!

  • 489.
  • At 11:48 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Issah Ibrahim wrote:

the british law is the spreme law in britain, therefore any other law that is not inconsistent with the basic laws of that land can and should be incorprated if that can help check morality in the society.

  • 490.
  • At 12:57 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Oladejo Azeez,Esq. wrote:

Dr.Rowan William's comment should be commended by all.I am a Muslim brought up by a kind-hearted Baptist Pastor in the early 1970s.My late grandfather,a Muslim scholar cheerfully released me to the Man of God to have a taste of Western education and religion.My early exposure to Christianity has had quite a lot of positive impact on my life;for I 've been able to appreciate the fact that the two great religions-Islam and christianity are the same.
The West should stop the negative perception of Islam from the prism of suicide bombing,terrorism and 'Political Sharia'which are examplified by amputations in some Islamic countries.
The growing population of Muslims in the United Kingdom requires that some aspects of British laws concerning marriage,inheritance and contract incorporate the 'sharia option'so that these muslims can elect the option.
I therefore feel that the Archbishop's comment is apt and that some of his critics reallly don't understand him and so over-reacted.The phobia in the West for anything 'Islamic' is unwarranted in this 21st Century when extreme tolerance is badly needed to guarantee world peace.

  • 491.
  • At 01:48 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Issah (#490) well said. Oladejo (#491) Yes, Islam is very like 'Christianity'. All too few of the 'Christians' about us today appreciate why, for centuries 'Christianity' fought subversive Protestants (Trots), and the significance of the fact that like Stalin' Russian Socialism in One Country, the Damascus based Baath Party (which the West went to eradicate in Iraq just as it did in Germany in the 1940s) was founded by a Christian.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Aflaq

Sadly, all about us today, most of our 'Christian' values aren't as 'Christian' as they appear.

Anthony (#489) Douglas has a clone does he? ('The Matrix' - deja vu - be brave... take the red pill ;-).

  • 492.
  • At 02:07 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Alison Cruickshank wrote:

Adrienne(#488)

I really wouldn't look at statistics when it comes to the average Muslims being more law abiding than 'White' Britons. We know that statistics can be fabricated. There have and continue to be attacks on 'white' Britons by parts of the Muslim population. The police and papers do not report due to, what they state 'Islamaphobia' and thanks to the Iraq War. There are already many Asian Gangs turning the East End of London into No-Go-Areas and we haven't spoken about the North of England that are the no go areas Bishop Nazir Ali talks about.

I think there are many people living in the UK, who have been born here, who are far from British. The only thing that could possibly relate them to anything British is possibly their name as they have not embraced British Culture nor ever will. Regardless what you think, Muslims in the UK will never be British but they are very much British Residents.
I know of NO muslims who class themselves as British. They are born here but see themselves as Bangladeshi and Pakistani. They may live in our society but segregation is growing between the British and the Muslim population.

There are many answers you are yet still to give from my last post Adrienne and I really do not want to go into discussing China. This discussion is about Islam and more importantly Sharia.
However, in this debate the question is not 'Should Muslims have Sharia in the UK?' but instead should be 'Should Muslims respect the Secular way of life more than they do here in the UK and more importantly the views of the majority, whom because of their tolerance and striving for equality for all and are rapidly becoming extinct?'

Accepting Sharia Law is not about giving Muslims their rights but moreso taking away those of the majority. The more Islam grows in the UK, what will happen to the secular UK that it is now? What will happen when demographics state that Muslims now outnumber anyone else in the UK? What will happen when Muslims then pusch for full Islamic Law, whom as the majority will not doubt get it? What will happen to the other religions that Islam does not tolerate? What will happen to the British way of life that has evolved over the last thousand years?

Regardless of what you may think Adrienne about the 'british' way of life, it is the best way of life in this world as it offers all complete freedom here in the UK with no restrictions apart from those activities that may go against our way of law.

The crux of the situation is that Islam needs to start fitting into our culture and not the other way around. If Islam does not then I fear that the tolerance levels of British people, especially since Rowan stated what he did, will fall rapidly turning this society into one that accepts no other cultures.

  • 493.
  • At 02:31 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • newtonins wrote:

Who exactly is this Mr Murray?
He looked, acted and spoke as though he had just been 'visited' as Chief Oik by the boys in the Upper School. His anger was so contrived and his intention to keep the tabloid wave of hysteria in full flow was embarrasing. Why was he given the time of day to appear on national television?
As for Jeremy Paxman, I have a message for the controllers of BBC2. Its hard when somebody reaches their sell-by date and no-one has the heart to tell them. His interaction with Professor Ramadan was discourteous to say the least and reminiscent of his embarrassment at the hand of Mr Galloway. Never mind Jeremy - more time for the trout.

  • 494.
  • At 03:10 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • BadruL hisham wrote:

British law, especially on civil case is apply for many cases in commonwealth countries.For British to accept other law at their country, it was some thing very interesting. Furthermore it was shariah law and recommended by Archbisop.
For muslim, it is depend on whatever law is using by the country where they lives. For country that allow muslim to apply shariah law on certain basic principles, it is most wel come.
Archbishop has every right to comment and suggest things that he feel suitable to apply. He is a religious man and knows what was he talking about.
Prime Minister, Mr Gordon as well as those who oppose it should look at it in a more contructive manner. If British law is using in other countries, why not shariah law to be given a chance in British.We are not talking about to implement the whole shariah laws in British. In Malaysia, for example, we are not imposed shariah law for non muslim, they are free to use their own accept on civil case. It is a beautiful mixtures.


  • 495.
  • At 03:15 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Hanslick wrote:

Reply to #494

"... more time for the trout" - that's no way to talk about the lady in Mr Paxman's life.

  • 496.
  • At 03:45 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Alison (#493). Have a closer look at the standard government ethnic 16+1 CLASSification system (which covers kids in our schools and those processed by our Criminal Justice System). What I have posted here are known, well established empirical facts.

Sure statistics CAN be fabricated, but having said that, where have you absorbed the evidence from which has shape your assumptions and inferences - the media? How critical are you of your assumptions?

You are demonstrably factually wrong in what you believe, and in what you infer from your false premises as a consequence. A devious instenSional propaganda game is played by confabulating others' grasp of class memberships and their ignorance of population base-rates. For instance, British Black Caribbean boys are grossly OVER represented in crime, and are excluded from school at twice the rate of White British boys. Why is that? Is that to be explained in terms of an absence of Caribbeanophobia or unwitting/unconscious racism on the part of police and teachers? Why do Jews comprise between 5 and 10% (depending on your source) of the House of Lords when they only comprise about half a percent of the population (the same proportion of the population as the British Chinese. How many Chinese British peers are there?. Chinese British come top in our school SATs tables. See anything odd here?

Beware of the Cultural Marxists (and Neoconservatives in general) Alison. They have an agenda, and Muslims are a threat. Assess/evaluate Dean Godson's 'Policy Exchange' and Douglas Murray's 'Centre for Social Cohesion' critically, and in a larger context ;-)

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=24280

  • 497.
  • At 04:14 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • SANUSI RASAKI wrote:

I sallute Dr Rowan for been modern.we all live today in a world of free fredom and full accomodation of believes and rights.His suggestion thus becomes pratical.

  • 498.
  • At 08:04 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • ashley alexander-watson wrote:

The Cuckoo is in the nest.

  • 499.
  • At 09:53 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • B Fox wrote:

The 'modern' Archbishop of Canterbury has used the terms "inhumanities" and "primitivist" in relation to Islam as it is known in countries with which the UK has diplomatic relations - specifically naming Saudi Arabia.

The "inhumanities" we will excuse due to its context of use, a radio interview.

He would rather see used the term "primitivist", used in an offical statement published by the Church of England as a
"considered" response to this debacle than accept the honourable course open when a fellow Archbishop describes to the BBC the "plummeting confidence" in his leadership.

Repeat, he used the words "primitivist" and "inhumanities" in relation to Islam. These are terms used not in the service of a proper purpose of the Church of England but inflammatory language used selfishly in the course of defending himself.

What position is he in to travel to these countries now or attend conferences attended by clerics some of whose practices he has gone on record in describing in these terms? It was reported in the Times that he was "unable" to visit the Armed Forces in the Gulf on one occasion when in Qatar on the grounds of the Muslim-Christian theological conference in Qatar he was too busy to leave. Can he return to such a conference now?

What position in he in to deal with a Lambeth conference that is being boycotted by Anglican bishops worldwide? Or after he
chose to write a Christmas 'message' referring to the ordination services of African primates as 'illicit' activity? Is that
a fair response to an attempt to negotiate the complicated jurisdictional issues arising from orphaned bishops and clergy in
the United States who, by virtue of their loyalty to worldwide Anglicanism and the Church of England, are now not "entitled",
apparently, to representation at Lambeth.

Does the leader of the English state church being propped up by the public support of a Roman Catholic Cardinal compensate for an Anglican archbishop trying seriously to say that there is a problem with a swathe of Anglican bishops worldwide boycotting your conference? Does anyone care that the parish church of George Washington is reportedly now not part of any recognised Anglican body? Is Dr. Williams now working to address the exclusion of American clergy imposed by his decision to refuse them the recognition due them as loyal, doctrinally-compliant Anglicans. They have been punished for refusing to go along with any unilateral departures from the wider Anglican Church and its mother church in England, while those who have changed the name of their church and made statements rejecting "foreign oversight" retain their place in the "high councils" of the Anglican Church.

This is a sensitive, nuanced, jurisdictional issue. England can expect that Dr. Williams should attend to this, now that he's
practiced thinking about "supplementary jurisdictions" and "issues around the perceived concerns of other religious communities". He should be ready after his lengthy sabbatical last year, and now after working with "perceived issues", for
--actual-- issues.

Begin the formal recognition and integration of Anglican church groups orphaned by the ex-ECUSA (which now prefers to go by a different name but still gets to attend Lambeth en masse).

If we regained these North American parishes, that would restore the confidence of South American and African and Asian Anglican Primates.

We need a worldwide Christianity. Not a worry-wort banging on about how difficult it is to get divorced in Bradford.

  • 500.
  • At 10:16 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Professor Syanmalka wrote:

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, can all you posters who insist upon Religious Law being subservient to British Law avail yourselves of the current situation in the UK today?
JEWS have the option of going to their own courts for matters of dispute already - why are we not in uproar about them?
This PROVES that this knee-jerk Daily Mail/Express misinterpretation of Dr Rowan's comments ARE MOST CERTAINLY ISLAMOPHOBIC. It's one rule for the Muslims and one for everyone else. Same thing happened when Islamic schools came into the news - despite the fact that Jewish and Christian schools already exist.
We should treat all religions equally.
By the way Sharia Law insists that Muslim residents of a non-muslim country must abide by the laws of the land, where this does not conflict with faith. Sharia Law IS NOT about chopping the hands off thieves or stoning adulterers..to state this fact you are simply exposing the gulf or chiasm between your knowledge and that of Dr Rowan.
Oh and by the way do a search on the word 'Polymath' - Dr Rowan is probably the only living British polymath in public life today. We could do with more of these people in the Government and Media. Therefore all the posters casting aspersions about his 'lack of intelligence' are looking very stupid to me right now....

  • 501.
  • At 10:39 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Mike Hill wrote:

People constantly keep saying that if you live in Rome, you should live as the Romans do. However British hypocrisy means that we turn a blind eye to the fact that our own Christian leaders are the ones who fabricated a lie to take us all into war against millions of innocent iraqis. So called Christian leaders like Bush and Blair are wholly responsible for the crime of an unjust war against ordinary iraqi families, whose lives are utter hell now. What gives us the right to impose our Christianity and our secularism on muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan? we are simply not practising what we preach. For hundreds of years Britain has massecred millions of people from countries all around the world in the sordid name of our own greedy empire. What we did in slavery was also hardly Christian was it? The middle classes in Britain are quick to show contempt towards other faiths and cultures but appear to be blind to the deeds that brought wealth to Britain in the name of empire. There is no justification for what we have done to Iraq now. The hypocrisy in the discussions we have are just unbelievable. We have brought destruction and suffering on a massive scale to places like Iraq yet we call ourselves civilised? We continue to spout the same racist stereotypes about every asian etc without even bothering to speak to people as friends. It seems all we ever do is look down our imperialist noses at everyone else and jump to conclusions about thousands of muslims who are actually hardworking, law abiding and decent citizens.

  • 502.
  • At 11:22 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Ann Blackmore wrote:

Jeremy Paxman appears to give credit to the number of e-mails you have received criticizing Rowan Williams. Yet these are replies from people who own or use computers. There are millions of people who still do not own or have access to computers, so the e-mails you have received are not a true cross-section of the population. If you continually give credence to e-mail replies then your programmes will be skewed to a limited section of the population.

  • 503.
  • At 11:23 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • chrispmim@aol.com wrote:

If Jesus had delivered the Archbishop's lecture from The Mount, I suspect he would have been listening to himself within a matter of minutes.

I've read this lecture and it's near unfathomable. How appropriate then for the Archbishop to apologise for what he describes as 'unclarity'.

If he's guilty of anything, it's an abysmal lack of communication skills.

  • 504.
  • At 11:37 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Jade wrote:

I think we should criticise the Archbishop on one count only; that his suggestions are impractical. I do not think that Sharia Law should be even slightly integrated into the current law; but I stress the reasons for this. It simply would be difficult, impractcal, and does offend the principle of equality and the doctrine of the rule of law. However those who reject it as a further threat to our British culture, and those of the Anglican Church who attack the Archbishop for being too 'liberal' should consider broadening their minds. Providing Islamic practise, Jewish practise, or any other religious practise does not intervene with one's own practises or harm anyone then why should we deny Islam the right to behave how they feel culturally comfortable? This is the only reason I do not favour Archbishops suggestions; because it would intervene with our own legal system.

Society should not be a fight for cultural dominance. It should be a harmonious and tolerant cultural co-existence. And can I remind those who see us as a 'Christian country' that we are not. We are a multi-faith multicultural society and should learn to embrace the wonderful diversity.

  • 505.
  • At 11:37 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Thomas Kidd wrote:

Whatever people's view about the content of the Archbishop's speach, the attck on the speaker is repulsive. The Sun 'wot done it' support and fueling of an ill informed demand for the Archbishop's resignation says it all. There is a sense of the mob about the whole issue. What is more frightening is how MP's are willing to appease and play to the gallery whilst robbing the audience. As for the christian evangelicals...yes there really is an Army of GOD. They would like nothing more than laws that outlaw abortion and various forms of sex between adults... getting into bed with them on this issue is not going to be much fun and the consequences will be around for a long time. Perhaps the left and liberals should think carefully?
Anyway, viva La Murdoch... and bash the bishop... three cheers for ye merry England.

Is it not already possible for an arbitrator such as an imam to act at the request of two parties? And could not the parties draw up a contract agreeing to abide by the finding? What more is needed?
Could not a mosque apply for marriages to be registered at its premises? It is not clear to me what more is being asked for.

  • 507.
  • At 10:22 PM on 13 Feb 2008,
  • R.Whiting wrote:

Williams is an intelligent man - you bet he is. Naive - no way.
Think of the situation with schools. The Jews, Anglicans and Catholics have for years received state funding to run proselytising machines. When the Islamists wanted the same did the former oppose them?
Not a word, in fact when given the opportunity they supported extension to Islam.
Why? For centuries these religionists have been slowly losing their grip on our society and are desparate to recruit others (any others) to their cause.
An exactly parallel situation (to education) is now developing in the law.
At heart all religionists wish to see their state governed by the laws of their "god" rather than ones arrived at democratically.
Cunning, aren't they.

  • 508.
  • At 06:07 PM on 14 Feb 2008,
  • Shafeeq Siddiqui wrote:

The Archbishop is a deep thinker and an honourable man - unlike the newspaper Editors who have sought to sell a few more papers at the cost of sowing disharmorny in the community.
I would have proposed public flogging for them, but I am afraid they would enjoy that!!
I am also surprised at Jeremy Paxman who gave uninterrupted airtime to a slogan monger like Murray and kept serious thinkers like Dr Ramadan and the Cardinal waiting!!
He should also be a publicly flogged perhaps in his underpants!!

  • 509.
  • At 09:23 AM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • wappaho wrote:

when is islamaphobia merely westernaphilia?

  • 510.
  • At 05:34 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • Huda wrote:


I am just fed up of hearing Shariah law being equated with capital punishment....Shariah law governs ones whole way of life from the spiritual to the civil, judicial, poltical, social aspect of a state. Shariah cannot be implemented in its entirety with out an islamic state and this DOES NOT EXIST. so why are the british so afraid of it?..or more to the point, the west? ....ultimatley people need to educate themselves before jumping the gun.

Dr Rowan Williams had good intentions and I can understand as being a muslim what he was trying to get across. I think the media took Dr Williams speech out of context to spur up more hatred and fear of muslims.

Truth is always a victim.

  • 511.
  • At 06:10 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • The Panda wrote:

The tragedy in the Rowan Williams controversy was how me end up missing the point. We argue and disagree on the point he was trying to make, so much so we miss the point of discussion and get lost in disagreement.
Yes we disagree and some of us don't understand what he is saying but we must discuss it and resolve the issues it raises.
It is only with discussion and understanding we achieve equality and hopefully peace and better understanding in a troubled world.

Jeremy Travis

  • 512.
  • At 12:43 PM on 05 Mar 2008,
  • hamdan wrote:

The bishop is not demanding but he felt that sharia laws are unavoidable
We all accepts there are some pros and cons of every theology so what is wrong in adopting the goods of one.
And as the bishop only felt so, this is a debatable issue and one can not just rule out its possibility
If this issue comes under the consideration of parliament, apart from its adoption or not, it will help in understanding the Muslim's ideology and interfaith harmony

  • 513.
  • At 11:53 PM on 05 Mar 2008,
  • simon wrote:

I live in England am proud to be English and English law has developed and evolved over more than a 1000 years to give its citizens the best protection the law can and is admired throughout the world. It has developed by precedent, at least as far as the common law is concerned, which means it has responded and adapted as society has changed. Islamic law should have no place in this land in any meaningful way - it is socially divisive, inequitable and based on an intolerant religion, it could only do harm both to moderate muslims who have come here to live in a free society and to the wider non-muslim community.

  • 514.
  • At 01:02 AM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • John Sharman wrote:

I know ABC is an intellectual,sensitive head of the Church and his lecture was given to a select group of lawyers on Islam.However he needs to learn to simplify complex ideas.Especially when he realizes due to over reaction he has to explain without notes to newspeople on radioetc what he was trying to say.I know he used words like sharia is 'inevitable' and it's bad that there is only one rule of law.What he's really up against is that our rule of law is secular and comes from the Enlightenment.He is raising the issue of introducing modifications to the law sensitive to minority beliefs and religious practices.After all the secular structures arose out of our Christian heritage,which they have now cast off.I still think he's courageous for bringing up a difficult subject.I suspect by allying himself with all other religious beliefs he wishes to place religion back at the heart of our society.However he has no political nous and should be more aware of the effects of his words.Maybe his intention was to shake things up and for society to have an open debate.The written down and the oracular spheres don't always go together.He should learn not to obfuscate but make his intention clear.

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