Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Friday, 8 February 2008

Sharia law: your views

The Archbishop of Canterbury has faced widespread criticism after saying some Sharia law in the UK is "unavoidable".

Readers of the BBC News website have sent us more than 17,000 comments in reaction to the Archbishop's remarks on Thursday. This a selection of your comments:

Read your previous comments

MICHE NORMAN, RA'ANANA, ISRAEL

Miche Norman
The result of this can be a mad dash to get into the 'better' court first. But where both parties really want to have the religious law applied, that seems to work.

I am surprised at this uproar. In Israel, which is a multi-cultural society, we have a parallel legal system, were for certain matters people have the choice of going through the civil courts or the religious courts.

For example, a Muslim couple getting divorced can choose to go through the Muslim religious courts. The system is not ideal, and the general perception is that the religious courts generally favour men, whereas the civil courts are better for women.

The result of this can be a mad dash to get into the 'better' court first. But where both parties really want to have the religious law applied, that seems to work.

Another point is that religious law, whether Muslim or Jewish, is recognized here on personal matters. If proper controls are applied - for example ratification by a civil court, what is the problem, on a logical front?

But the reaction is not logical, it seems to be based on fear. I think that what is happening in England is a fear, justified or not, of an increased islamification of the UK.

Islam is a pretty in your face religion - you cannot avoid the covering of the face, the sound of the Muezin, and that does not dovetail with staid British behaviour.

Perhaps what people are really afraid of is not Islamic law being applied to the Muslim population, but rather, that it will eventually, 100 years down the line, be applied to the general population and that instead of an Archbishop of Canterbury it will be a Grand Mufti of Canterbury. It seems to me to be an attack on the thin edge of the wedge.

SIMON PATRICK, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, UK

How can the Church of England hope to make itself relevant with this detached academic at the helm? At least we have seen a robust rebuttal from most of the Bishops and the government.

What on earth is Rowan up to? Who does this man think he's supposed to be representing? I simply can't comprehend why he should bring this topic up.

If, as some have suggested, it is a clever means to make a case for religious influence in secular society then frankly he couldn't have made a worse job of it.

As an active member of the CofE I have to confess that I am baffled and angered by William's continued pandering to the politically correct, and his complete failure to represent the great traditions and values of the JudeoChristian beliefs this nation is founded upon.

Not only that, but he has proved himself out of touch with most Christian, Muslim and secular sentiment - I despair.

How can the Church of England hope to make itself relevant with this detached academic at the helm? At least we have seen a robust rebuttal from most of the Bishops and the government.

As well as Sharia being "inevitable" he makes the extraordinary statement that, "one law for all is bit of a danger". I don't know whether to be angry, confused or just embarrassed. Perhaps all three are appropriate.

Once again the Archbishop of the Church of England shows his complete failure to stand up for either the Church, or England.

ROBIN SOHDI, WALTON ON THAMES, UK

As an Asian born and bred in the UK I am horrified by the Archbishop's remarks. They are ill conceived and poorly timed.

My father came to the UK from India in the early 50s and always said the UK's robust judiciary and sense of fair play was something to be admired and respected.

If we are to agree to the introduction of elements of Sharia law, followed by Zorastrian 'law' and then Sikh 'laws' (I used the term law in a liberal manner) etc we will create a divided society which will implode.

SHAUN FORDSYKE, DUBAI

Many different cultures cross paths every day in this country and all tolerate each other because we understand that we are visitors who don't try and impose our own way of life onto our host nation's cultural and religious beliefs.

Im a UK citizen who lives and works in a Middle East country which applies its Sharia law on all its residents, regardless of the faith.

Nonetheless, as a Christian living abroad it is my choice. What I and many other expatriates don't do is demand our own laws relating to our faith, after all this is not the UK!

Should the Archbishop's point of view be adopted, in any shape or form, then all that would be created is division with the country, and not integration. You would end up with States within States, as all other religious groups would be demanding their own form of legal system.

Many different cultures cross paths every day in this country and all tolerate each other because we understand that we are visitors who don't try and impose our own way of life onto our host nation's cultural and religious beliefs.

This works here, and the UK should ensure that its Christian way of life is maintained under one set of laws for all citizens of the country regardless of faith.

If any group of citizens can't accept that, then I suggest they leave and live in a country which lives by the laws they want to apply.

Sharia law is very much a male dominant law and I could not see it being accepted by the majority of females, even Muslim, living in the UK if they had a choice.

Remember, in a democratic country, in principle, you have a choice and a voice, not many do in the Middle East!

BEN WRIGHT, LONDON, UK

The Church of England should stick to accentuating personal, moral responsibility, love and forgiveness and keep well away from politics.

Christmas has gone, Easter on the way... The Christian calendar drives the tempo of our lives in the UK and sometimes, like me, others may think: maybe I should go to Church, rediscover what it's all about?

But then you can always count on Canterbury putting you off for another few years with his wishy-washy twaddle.

What business has he making political points such as this? The Church of England should stick to accentuating personal, moral responsibility, love and forgiveness and keep well away from politics.

Otherwise, people like me will continue to feel alienated from the Church (which should be a haven from this sort of guff) finding at every turn its incumbents seem to lack the intellectual capacity of a pancake.

LOUISE, LONDON

I am Muslim and would like to put a couple of things straight.

No 1: The Sharia law being implemented in Muslim countries is grossly incorrect. Stoning, beheading, killing for honour, lack of women's rights etc. are NOT from Islam.

No 2: Majority of Muslims are not claiming to want Sharia law implemented in this country.

You follow the law of the country you reside in, simple as that, or go and live somewhere else.

It just seems another media hype to try and instigate animosity against us.

MAURIZIO MORABITO, LONDON, UK

Maurizio Morabito
Rarely I have seen a document more profoundly Christian, in the best possible sense of the word. And yet (or... of course!) reactions have been overwhelmingly negative

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has written an extremely insightful piece on "Islam and English Law".

It is a lecture that everybody should read, as it is intelligent, thoughtful, humble, and single-handedly describes the basis for solving the Islamic Question in Western societies, once and for all.

It can also be seen as the inspiration for a re-writing of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making it even more universal than it is at the moment.

Dr Williams goes at great lengths to analyse the possible drawbacks of allowing people to use Islamic (but not just Islamic) Law within the framework of English (secular) Law, and offers challenges and solutions to all circumstances. He even mentions the existing settings of Inuit Law, as an example.

I say, rarely I have seen a document more profoundly Christian, in the best possible sense of the word. And yet (or... of course!) reactions have been overwhelmingly negative!!!.

The number and virulence of the ill-informed attacks against Dr Williams is a clear indication of how much Islamophobia has now become 'mainstream'.


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