The Archliberal of Ditherbury

By Lorne Gunter, Canada’s National Post

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had better hope shariah law never takes hold in Britain, otherwise, as the leader of an infidel faith, he’ll be among the first to be flayed alive in Ayatollah Khomeini Public Assemblage Area (formerly Trafalgar Square). The Supreme Council of the Islamic Republic of Great Britain will probably even hold his show trial in his own cathedral.

To be fair to Dr. Williams, who has been eaten alive in the British press over the past 48 hours about comments he made regarding the inevitability of Britain permitting some form of Islamic shariah law, did not actually recommend that shariah replace British Common or criminal law.

However, with a social tone-deafness and political ineptitude that could only be summoned by a dodgy, old Anglican vicar, Dr. Williams told first a conference at the Royal Courts of Justice and later a radio interviewer that it “seems inevitable” elements of Islamic law would eventually be incorporated into British law. Many new Islamic citizens do not relate well to the British legal system. Hence adding shariah dispute-resolution might increase Muslim-Britons’ sense of acceptance.

“Nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that has sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states,” he told the BBC’s World at One program. “But there are ways of looking at marital disputes, for example, which provide an alternative to the divorce courts as we understand them.”

(Remember when Communism’s Western apologists used to argue it was good system, it was just that everywhere else it had been tried it had been implemented badly?)

Dr. Williams’ lecture to the court conference was very erudite and academic. Still, the first question that pops into my head is:Why on Earth would he choose to defend shariah law after being invited to give the Royal Courts annual foundation lecture? Dr. Williams was asked by his hosts to bring a religious perspective to a debate on civil and religious law in England and he chose as his topic an explanation of the inevitability of shariah law.

Robert Frost once said a liberal was a man so broad-minded he refused to take his own side in argument. I doubt Mr. Frost had the archbishop in mind, but no doubt he was thinking of some similar.

It’s clear Dr. Williams’ liberalness makes it easier to defend the adoption of an Islamic legal code then to — oh, I don’t know — call on the members of the Royal Court to restore British law to its foundations in Christian morality.

I’m not saying he should have done the latter any more than the former. Rather, it is quite a statement about the power of political correctness among liberals that, despite being head of one of the world’s most influential Christian denominations, Dr. Williams finds it easier to argue for shariah law than make a case for inclusion of the Ten Commandments.

The cleric’s defenders have pointed to the fact that Orthodox Jews, for instance, are permitted their own Beth Din (houses of judgment) to, among other things, make decisions on dietary laws and advise community members on the legitimacy of their divorces under rabbinical law.

However, the right to the Beth Din was never a threat to the law of the broader community. Most Orthodox Jews accept the supremacy of secular courts. No Jewish leader has demanded the imposition of rabbinical law over an entire country — with the exception of Israel.

Moreover, since our laws are based on our Judeo-Christian heritage, it could be argued that Jewish law has from the start been a vital strand in the braid of the western legal tradition.

The Beth Din were never held out as some multicultural sop to militant Jews in the hope that by appeasing them they would feel more accepted by the larger community. But that is what the Archliberal of Ditherbury is suggesting: Let extremist Muslims have their shariah law and they will become so grateful to English society they will never -oh, I don’t know -set off bombs in the Tubes and on buses.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “The Prime Minister believes British law should apply in this country, based on British values.”

That’s fine, but the home of the Magna Carta, constitutional monarchy, parliament, the rule of the law, the bill of rights, habeas corpus, public courts and responsible government no longer seems to know what its values are.

Not only is the head of the Anglican church a cheerleader for Islamic law, Mr. Brown’s own government last month renamed terrorism as “anti-Islamic activity.” That’s another multicult sop to extremists and indicates that much of the English elite no longer has a clue what “British values” are.

Heaven help them avoid shariah.

February 9, 2008 | 1 Comment »

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  1. Richard the Lionheart’s descendants have no clue as what Islam really represents. Thanks to the decline in the birthrate in England and much of Europe of native Europeans, Sharia law stands an excellent prospect of becoming a reality in a generation. Rowan Williams is just ahead of his time in describing what is going to happen in the future.