Sharia Law

I have to admit that this whole furure over the recognition of sharia law or not in the UK has me rather bemused. Giggling even.

Senior religious leaders attack multiculturalism and sharia law today, warning that they are "disastrous", socially divisive and are destroying Britain\’s culture and values.

It\’s not just the oft used comparison with aspects of Orthodox Jewish law and the Bith Den (or is it Beth Din, I can never remember?).

There was, some years ago, a case where a certain Mrs. Cohen, who was a convert to Judaism, found out that in the eyes of that religion her (long, and fruitful) marriage ws not in fact a marriage as Mr. Cohen, as a part of the tribe of Cohanim (I think I\’m getting that word correct) was not allowed to marry a convert, only one born into the religion. This of course had no effect whatsoever on whether Mrs. Cohen was married or not in English law, nor whether the Cohenettes were legitimate children or not. They had married in a ceremony legal under English law and that was that.

Lord Carey and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O\’Connor rebut the call of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for Islamic law to be recognised in Britain.

Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, said: "His acceptance of some Muslim laws within British law would be disastrous for the nation. He has overstated the case for accommodating Islamic legal codes.

"His conclusion that Britain will eventually have to concede some place in law for aspects of sharia is a view I cannot share.

"There can be no exceptions to the laws of our land which have been so painfully honed by the struggle for democracy and human rights."

The giggles rather come from the former Archbishop of Canterbury saying such a thing. Has he never heard of Canon Law? That is, a different and discrete system of laws within our society that applies to one group and one group only: the Church of England and its priests (and sometimes its adherents)?

Our Cormac also piles in: yet while a Catholic might legally divorce the Church will not recognise that, while a Catholic may remarry after such a divorce, the Church will not recognise that. We already have a splintered legal system.

And not just for religous matters either. To sign up as a doctor puts you voluntarily under the legal system of the General Medical Council, as a solicitor under the Law Society. Many contracts insist upon arbitration clauses.

To add another system of law which people might vountarily sign up to, namely sharia law, doesn\’t seem to me to be a breach of anything at all. Indeed, such private legal systems seem to be rather the system.

With one proviso of course: that such systems are kept in their place. A subservient one. That the Catholic Church can ignore the divorce law is fine: but not that the law insist that Catholics cannot avail themselves of it. That an arbitration clause in a contract be enforced is fine, as long as there can be appeal to the courts as well. That the religious definition of a marriage be defined by the religious courts? Not a problem: as long as those requesting the legal protections of the law of the land marry in a legal ceremony. (Worth noting here that there is no difference in law between a marriage that takes place in a church, a synagogue or a registry office. The same legal process has taken place, whatever the mummery that is dressed around it. That bit where they go off to "sign the registry": that\’s the legal process, however many hymns are sung around it.)

The idea of sharia law in England simply isn\’t a problem. As long as it is, as with these other private legal systems, subservient to the main legal system itself.

I haven\’t read Rowan Williams original remarks (the man sends me to sleep, sorry) but while he is indeed a bearded leftie, he\’s also far too clever a man to have been suggesting anything else. At least I hope so.

9 thoughts on “Sharia Law”

  1. Agree with first commenter.

    The essential difference between CofE canon law, Jewish thingumy, whatever the Catholics call theirs, and Sharia, is that the first three are not violently proselitysing and don’t have ambitions to take over the whole country – indeed, the whole world.

    Give them an inch, etc etc.

  2. There are many forms of arbitration which work well for parties which agree to comply with the outcome. Every time two folk toss a coin, or a group of friends form a lottery syndicate, a voluntary arrangement is made, based upon people keeping their word.

    Muslims already have that. So what more do they want?

    Also reports of sharia courts in the UK being used to “resolve” violent crimes need to be investigated. If they are true, the participants need to be prosecuted for conspiracy and perverting the course of justice.

  3. Since, in the Archbishop’s own words (which are being used to beat him up, so presumably the beaters-up believe them), Sharia law is already being used in the UK, surely we’re already Well Down The Slippery Slope and should Do Something Now Before It’s Too Late.

    I await the sensible proposals for the Something we should Do Now from the first three commentors with interest. Until then, I’m with Tim, who’s dead right here.

  4. Of course, the empowered Muslim Women of the enlighted Islamic ghettos will be at complete freedom to choose civil law over religious, when it comes to marital disputes.

    Some how I don’t think so.

  5. I too call for the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams to Resign.

    His comments are appalling and are only stiring up more racial tensions.

    Sharia Law was introduced to Canada and after worldwide backlash, Canadians and even muslims themselves complaining of it, it was stopped just whats happening now in Britain. Why didn’t the Archbishop learn from this instead of making foolish remarks like this.

    Can we just have one law in Britain please like we have for centuries!

  6. “Muslims already have that. So what more do they want?”

    As dsquared sensibly points out on my blog, they don’t have that – Sharia courts’ arbitrations are currently not accepted as binding in the same way that Beth Din courts are, and therefore someone dishonest effectively gets two bites at the cherry (first in sharia court, then petitioning normal courts to set the sharia judgement aside if they lose).

  7. What the sneaky bugger was actually doing was using the Sharia stuff as a diversion. The important sentence in his reams of waffle was something about having one law for everyone was ‘a bit problematic’ or something like that (I can’t be arsed to wade through it again to find the quote – sorry).
    So what he is actually after – which chimes in with what he said a week or two back about religious ‘hate speech’ – is that he wants religious folk to be able to… well… ignore any law that conflicts with their religious ‘conscience’ without any legal comeback.
    In short, exceptions made for the religious.
    A bit naughty to my mind.

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