Monday, February 11, 2008

Archbishop Rowan Williams and Sharia in the UK

You may have heard by now of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' remarks about the future place of sharia in the British legal system. Williams has been roundly accused of dhimmitude and there have been calls for his resignation.

Richard Hall has been blogging about this issue almost non-stop for a week and repeatedly urging people to listen to the actual interview.

I really should have done this before commenting on the subject, but didn't. One could say that for me, "The narrative was right but the facts were wrong." I failed to properly fact-check my assertions.

So I listened to the interview and concluded Williams' remarks have been wildly overblown.

The Archbishop asserts that sharia already has a place in the UK in the sense that private courts of marital arbitration already exist as a statement of factual reality. He specifically warns that many elements of sharia are primitive and have little place for modern concepts of human rights, particularly for women. And he also says that any private courts must have means to protect women from signing over their rights as human beings.

I am far more skeptical than Williams about the future of Islam in the UK or the West, or the realistic possibility of a "constructive accomodation" (a phrase that he uses in a far less Neville Chamberlain-like way than it initially appeared) with sharia. But to suggest that Rowan Williams is ready to surrender Britain to Islamofascism is a severe exaggeration of his remarks.

If you're trying to find signs of dhimmitude in Williams' remarks, you can probably find it, but I'm not at all convinced that that was his intention. Unless he has a well-established history of dhimmitude, this is a punch that just isn't connecting.


John Wilks said...

I've been digesting this story since it broke and I still can't decide how to take the Bishop's comments. And like you, I'm not sure about the future of Islam in western nations. Having read the Koran twice, I'm a bit nervous about conservative applications of its teachings.

Then again, many non-Christians have the same trepidation around conservative Christians- and not without historical warrant.

Richard Hall said...

A fair and gracious post. Thank you.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Your remarks and humility are much appreciated. Thanks John.

Andy B. said...

John - ditto Richard and Ken's remarks. You're a good guy!

John said...