Friday, February 08, 2008

The Penny Drops, But Not Loudly Enough.

Following my earlier story about the mad prelate Rowan Williams, the Arch-Buffoon of Durovernum, it seems that has has undergone a brief flash of insight and realised that he is completely out of touch with the majority of people who live in this country. Apparently, Williams is allegedly shocked by the response that his ignorant and ill-consider advocacy of the adoption in the UK of aspects of Sharia and that these should supersede our own juridical traditions.

According to the BBC, Williams is overwhelmed by what is described as the "hostility of the response" to his remarks and is allegedly in a "state of shock" (and I thought that they had dispensed with electro-convulsive therapy in our professional psychiatric institutions, but perhaps that other psychiatric institution known as the Church of England still employs them). However, why Williams should be upset is a mystery, for he spoke with almost total ignorance of the following facts:-
  • Though so-called Sharia Law has as its origin "the inerrant words of God", there is no single version of Sharia applied throughout the Muslim world, since the Imams who hand down their judgements interpret the Qu'ran and the Hadith according to their own persuasion and precedent.
  • Sharia law treats men and women differently, even with regards to the subject of divorce which Williams seemed to have in mind, as a women has a far harder task of obtaining equal treatment to that of her husband when she wants a divorce, so Sharia is essentially discriminatory, unequal, divisive and sexist, not to mention that many of the punishments it imposes are barbaric - a fact that Williams himself recognises - and all these things are matters which we in this country have fought long and hard to remove from our society.
  • Whilst the overarching British juridical system has been developed and moulded over centuries - admittedly with the interference of the established churches here - the law, whether in Scottish or English law - remains secular and is meant to be applied to all, irrespective of their religious persuasion or lack of it, position, rank, or whatever their unique claims are. The penalties for breaking our laws are man-made ones, not those allegedly ordained by some imaginary entity called "God", though no doubt Williams would like to see us revert to the situation where ecclesiastical courts ran all our affairs once again, but we have long since refused to accept the dominance of religion and its quondam power over our lives.
  • There is no valid justification per se for people of specific religious persuasions being treated differently under the law than the rest of us and for Williams to suggest that they should be given such privileges as of right is simply wrong. Admittedly our law has made such concessions - for example, Sikhs are excused from wearing a crash-helmet whilst driving a motor-bike because their turbans are a religiously imposed dress-form whilst any non-Sikh without a helmet is charged and prosecuted - but when this happens it simply represents bad law which causes much resentment.
Actually, I suspect that the real reason behind Williams' affront to the nation yesterday was to pander to those Muslim clerics who have been calling on him to discipline the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, for speaking out the other week pointing out that Muslims had turned parts of Britain into no-go areas for non-Muslims. Despite the fact that Nazir-Ali backed up his claims with evidence, it is considered by many of a liberal bent that one should not point these uncomfortable facts out, even though what Nazir-Ali said is undoubtedly true. These inconvenient truths also meant that Williams could not pander to his Muslim friends by contradicting Nazir-Ali directly, so he had to find another way of ingratiating himself with them. Nevertheless, the truth of Nazir-Ali's claims did not stop the Muslims' bitter complaints, nor the subsequent death threats to Nazir-Ali and his family , who are now under Police protection. Strangely enough Williams has been silent on that issue.

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