13 February 2008

Let's have Faith in a Defender of Reason

The following is the text of an email I sent to The World at One following the broadcast of their interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury:


We have struggled for centuries to achieve the freedoms we have in this country, and internationally. Any recognition of Sharia law, even in a small way, would be a retrograde step, based as it is on unreformed mediaevalism.

On PM [or on their website] it was later reported that the Leicester Imam, Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "We're looking at a very small aspect of Sharia for Muslim families when they choose to be governed with regards to their marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody of children and so forth."

That doesn't sound "very small" to me! It sounds like the whole swathe of family law.

Sharia family law is very much formulated to the benefit of men, and it would be very difficult for a Muslim woman to go against the wishes of her family and freely choose to be judged under English law rather than Sharia.

Women in Islamic communities are already very restricted in what they are able to do. I would like to see some way in which they could be given more freedom. This can only come about by increased participation by Muslims in English society, rather than their self-imposed separatism.

This latest nonsense from Rowan Williams gives more impetus to the need to disestablish the Church of England, and make this country truly secular. Let's make our Monarch a "Defender of Reason" instead of Faith.


A later thought: I don't think the Archbishop is as daft as he looks. He has an ulterior motive. The Sharia Law thing is just a frightener. What he really wants, as he has made explicit in his address to the Synod, is for the law to include special allowances for Christian "conscience" (i.e. prejudice).


Andrew Copson of the BHA has now posted an excellent piece on the Guardian's "Comment is Free" pages: The Archbishop Adapts to Survive. Appropriately titled for Darwin Day, 12th February.