Friday, July 04, 2008

Sharia Over Here? Not Much To Fear

The 'Bearded' one has been joined by the 'Learned' one, with comments over sharia law. But judging by some of the headlines and comments today, it seems this is an area where resentment and bigotry is stronger than ever.

That point is made by Peter Oborne in today's Mail.

Top judge, Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips, apparently says principles of sharia law could play a role in some parts of the legal system. 

The comments previously made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that some aspects of sharia law may be unavoidable, sparked huge controversy and debate. 

That was until anyone took the trouble to actually read what he said. Then they were confronted by a dense, complex theological thesis that no-one understood. In the end, the Archbishop was told to stick with the day job. 

Sharia sets out the way some Muslims believe they should live their life. So it's worth looking carefully at what His Lordship has to say: 

"There is no reason why sharia principles, or any other religious code, should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution ... It must be recognised, however, that any sanctions for a failure to comply with the agreed terms of mediation would be drawn from the laws of England and Wales."

Severe physical punishments such as flogging, stoning and the cutting off of hands would not be acceptable, he said.

He added: "There can be no question of such courts sitting in this country, or such sanctions being applied here.

"So far as the law is concerned, those who live in this country are governed by English and Welsh law and subject to the jurisdiction of the English and Welsh courts.

"I think it's important to clarify that English common law already allows us to go to mediation to whichever third party we wish.

"So that is why you have sharia council, that is why you have Jewish courts. It is a truly voluntary arrangement.

"There is no parallel legal system. This system cannot override English common law." 

Unlike the Archbishop, this seems like a reasoned, common-sense argument.

No comments: