The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, faced widespread criticism this week after he said the U.K. would have to accept some aspects of Islamic law as the country's Muslim population grows. A government minister said mixing sharia and British law was "a recipe for chaos," and a prominent clergyman said Williams should resign as head of the Church of England. (Reuters)
What the commentators said
Civilization has taken "a blow," said Investor's Business Daily in an editorial, when "a pillar of its values" says that sharia law is "unavoidable" in the U.K. Under the guise of promoting tolerance, the spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans wants to dismantle the "invisible architecture" of a legal system that has made Britain a "safe haven for religious dissenters since the days of the Pilgrims." The man is clearly "off the deep end."
Everyone who is "gleefully" accusing Williams of advocating "floggings, amputations and Taliban firing squads" is missing his "thoughtful" point, said Jeevan Vasager in the London Guardian. There are "plenty of countries" where Islamic law coexists with secular law—Tanzania, for example, applies Muslim family law to all Muslims. "There's a case to be made for combining the better elements of all our traditions, for the common good, and the archbishop is a brave man for making it"—even if he's getting shouted down by the Muslim-bashers.
Williams claims that imposing sharia law is just "constructive accommodation" of citizens who don't "relate" to the British legal system, said Roger Kimball in his Roger's Rules blog. "I guess that is British English for 'spineless capitulation.'" What the archbishop doesn't seem to get is that "the rule of law is not a lifestyle choice: it is not something you can opt out of if you happen to have alternative inclinations."