New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
News >

Lord Chief Justice backs Dr Williams over sharia

by Ed Beavan

Click to enlarge

THE Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, has suggested that aspects of sharia could be incorporated into British law in the future.

In a speech at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel, Lord Phillips, the most senior judge in England and Wales, said that principles of sharia could be used in certain contexts, such as resolving marital or financial disputes. He referred to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments on sharia in earlier this year, which caused widespread controversy (News, 15 February).

He said that Dr Williams’s comments had not been “clearly understood” by all. “A point that the Archbishop was making was that it was possible for individuals voluntarily to conduct their lives in accordance with sharia principles, without this being in conflict with the rights guaranteed by our law.”

He added it was “not very radical to advocate embracing sharia law in the context of family disputes”. “There is no reason why principles of sharia law, 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 the mediation would be drawn from the laws of England and Wales,” he went on.

Lord Phillips said that there were still many misconceptions about sharia, based on the severe physical punishments that are handed down in some Islamic countries that use the system. Many people’s views were coloured by Islamist extremists who invoked it to justify terrorist atrocities.

He was clear, however, that there was “no question” of sharia courts sitting in this country: “Those who live in this country are governed by English law.”

The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said he had read Lord Phillips speech with interest, but rejected his assertion that English law is secular. He argued that it was “rooted in the Judaeo-Christian tradition originating from the Bible”.

He said that any attempts to recognise sharia in terms of public law would be “fraught with difficulties . . . because it arises from a different set of assumptions from the tradition of law in this country”.

Job of the week

Inter Religious Affairs Programme Officer

London and Home Counties

Inter Religious Affairs Programme Officer Location: Lambeth Palace, London Salary: Starting salary of £27,911 rising to £30,326 upon successful completion of probation period. Contract Type: Full...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Keeping the faith under fire

Keeping the faith under fire

Large numbers of clergy volunteered to be military chaplains during the Great War. Peter Street tells some of their stories  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Is there enough reason now to impose tougher sanctions on Russia?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

Can Catholics back women bishops?

Christopher Hill asks whether Catholics can back women bishops  Subscribe to read more

Tue 29 Jul 14 @ 13:04
RT @bishopcoynePlease pray for the safe release of Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio, who was abducted in Syria one year ago today. http://t.co/r796npC2J9

Tue 29 Jul 14 @ 10:20
"No religious basis whatsoever in Islam for any form of FGM": Our report from Girl Summit on forced marriage + FGM http://t.co/WHFgG4imPv