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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Archbishop’s Comments On Sharia Law Make Mockery Of Social Cohesion

The National Secular Society said today that there would be few British citizens who will not be both baffled and dismayed by BBC reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, believes the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable" and might actually help social integration.

Dr Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK had to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens did not relate to the British legal system. NSS spokesman Alistair McBay condemned the comments, saying it was difficult to imagine a less helpful contribution to the debate on cohesion and social integration than this.

“The cornerstone of our pluralistic liberal democracy is the equality of all citizens under the law, yet Dr Williams says the idea of one law for everybody is 'a bit of a danger'. He is directly undermining what Britain stands for,” said McBay. “Can the Archbishop really be saying that some people in Britain should be allowed to have their own laws if they don’t approve of the ones we have? Apparently, yes he is!”

McBay continued: “All religious groups preach that they are inclusive and work towards social integration in Britain, yet what they practise is exactly the opposite. They want, and get, segregated schools, segregated scout groups, even segregated toilets, and now apparently, social cohesion and integration are to be further achieved by separate laws for separate religious groups. This is truly bizarre.”

McBay also queried the position the Church of England holds on the subject of social cohesion. “The Church of England’s recent contributions to the great multiculturalism debate are curious, to say the least. The Bishop of Rochester told us in January that there were Muslim “no-go” areas in Britain, all the fault of multiculturalism and the demise of the Christian religion, and he was seeking a Christian revival to counter this. Now his boss is telling us that Muslims should have their own laws. Neither contribution, contradictory as they apparently are, has been helpful.”

McBay also pointed out that Trevor Phillips, head of the CEHR, said last year that Britain was ‘sleepwalking into segregation’. “I bet not even he imagined that it would be the Church of England leading the somnambulists!” McBay said.

February 7 2008


Published Thu, 07 Feb 2008