In an interview on Radio 4's World at One, The Archbishop of Canterbury and nominal head of the Anglican Communion, threw in the towel saying that the:
UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.
His argument was that the adoption of some parts of Shari'a would go a long way to "maintain social cohesion" so that Muslims living in Britain would not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty". After all "Orthodox Jewish courts already operated, and that the law accommodated the anti-abortion views of some Christians". His argument itself raises a few questions: is the Archbishop conceding that societal fracture is occurring? Just under a week ago one of his Bishops was "facing anger from the most senior members of the Church of England hierarchy" for claiming exactly that. And since when is Shari'a a culture? Richard at The Belmont Club points out that another problem in Mr William's argument: Jews and Christians accept the supremacy of British law and work in it. But "that is fundamentally different from advocating that British law share authority, however "constructively", with a rival and alternative legal system, like sharia law".
The response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's message has been varied. In the political sphere, it has been univocal: everyone from the British PM to the chairman of the Human Rights Commission, from the Tories to the Liberal Democrats have panned the suggestion. Charles Johnson at littlegreenfootballs.com notes that the Archbishop's capitulation satisfies the "...very definition of a dhimmi". Other bloggers including Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata and Allahpundit at Hot Air argue that whilst Mr Williams was not being clear, his comments indicate he is a bona fide buffoon. However, not surprisingly, some Muslims in the U.K. see some merit to his suggestion saying that it "further underline the attempts by both our great faiths to build respect and tolerance" and "I believe that Muslims would take huge comfort from the government allowing civil matters being resolved according to their faith".
To suggest that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a buffoon would not be a stray accusation. It is an understatement. In an interview with a Muslim magazine in November 2007, Mr Williams poured scorn on the U.S. saying that:
We have only one global hegemonic power at the moment. It is not accumulating territory; it is trying to accumulate inﬂuence and control. [This is] the worst of all worlds.
Worse than the imperialistic posture of the British empire according to the Archbishop. To anyone who has a semi-decent grasp of contemporary geopolitics or grand strategy it is quite clear that Mr Williams is unlearned. And if not unlearned, then shamelessly selling his friend down the creek to appease a belligerent. I guess he stands in the shadows of fine Chamberlain tradition.
On the home front, some Australian Muslims are urging us to investigate Shari'a. The Opposition Leader, Dr Brendan Nelson responded quite unequivocally:
The idea that in some way you would change your basic values, culture and law to accommodate some people who feel that they don't want to see themselves as Australians first, above all else - under no circumstances would I support that.
This rejection of Shari'a (at least formally) in Australia is bipartisan. Australia's Attorney-General was equally unequivocal:
The Rudd government is not considering and will not consider the introduction of any part of Sharia law into the Australian legal system.
The Archbishop's only support appears to be coming from Muslims. Not even the moonbats at the British Human Rights Commission support him. That should say something about the preposterous nature of his suggestion. I too have a suggestion - for the Archbishop. Perhaps the Archbishop should care to advance the issues that affect Christians? Or if this is too difficult, perhaps Anglicans? I mean seriously, his own communion is fracturing over the issue of marriage, and he is more concerned about accommodating the Shari'a tradition of marriage? Or maybe this is his way of burying confirmation that Sydney Anglicans and some key African Anglican leaders will be boycotting the Lambeth Conference?
Update 9/02/08 8:30AM AEST: There are calls for Mr Williams' head from within his Church's governing body.