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Italy and Malaysia

10 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 31 October 2011

Owen Bennett Jones introduces insight, wit and analysis from BBC correspondents around the world. In this edition, David Willey reflects on how scepticism about the EU is mounting in Italy, while Jennifer Park explains why some Malaysians are unnerved by proposals to expand the reach of Islamic law.

Unpopular with the popolo

Italy has been coming under heavy political pressure recently, with a number of other Eurozone countries uniting to demand that it cut its nation.

There's fear in the rest of the EU that if Italy fails to deliver on its promises, the whole effort to shore up the Euro could be fatally undermined.

In 1957, David Willey witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Rome; more recently, he's been seeing Italy's enthusiasm for the EU ebbing away.

When two laws collide

Back in 2008 there was a storm of protest in the UK when the Archbishop of Cante
rbury, head of the Anglican Church, said the adoption of certain aspects of sharia or Islamic law in the UK seemed unavoidable.

His comments referred only to family law, not to criminal offences or their punishment. But the debate raged for months.

It's never easy for a multicultural society, with a large body or civil law, to set the limits on far how its different communities' religious law should be respected.

As Jennifer Pak has been finding out, in Malaysia the conflict between religious and state law can cause real problems - especially in cases where married couples are of different religions.


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