Rowan Williams pipes up again

The archbishop of Canterbury seems to be incapable of taking in new information that is inimical to what he already wants to believe. Perhaps this is not even worth pointing out, in an archbishop – except of course it is, however obvious it may be, because archbishops in the UK unfortunately have a huge amount of temporal power and also a considerable amount of influence.

On the anniversary of the interview in which Dr Rowan Williams said it “seems inevitable” that some parts of sharia would be enshrined in this country’s legal code, he claimed “a number of fairly senior people” now take the same view. He added that there is a “drift of understanding” towards what he was saying, and that the public sees the difference between letting Muslim courts decide divorces and wills, and allowing them to rule on criminal cases and impose harsh punishments.

Yes of course there’s a ‘difference’ but that does not mean, and it is not the case, that the difference in question is between harmful and harmless or cruel and benign or harsh and mild or irrationally fundamentalist and sweetly reasonable. There is a ‘difference’ but it remains the case that letting Muslim courts decide divorces and wills is a way to treat women grossly unequally.

The odd thing is that Williams must have been told this. He must have been told it a thousand times, in the strongest possible terms. So why can’t he take it in? What is the matter with the man? Apart from the fact that he’s an archbishop, of course. What is wrong with him? Why is he so determined to persuade the great British public that unequal rights for women is quite all right as long as the women in question are ‘members of the Muslim community’?

However critics insist that family disputes must be dealt with by civil law rather than according to religious principles, and claim the Archbishop’s comments have only helped the case of extremists while making Muslim women worse off, because they do not have equal rights under Islamic law.

Well duh. So how does Williams manage to ignore what critics say for a period of twelve months? Has he eaten of the multicultural lotus, or what?

Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: “He has started a process which is deeply dangerous, damaging to Britain and to Muslim women in Britain. It was a wicked move because it undermines the progressives and gives succour to the extremists. How does the Archbishop of Canterbury know, sitting in Lambeth Palace, that a woman in Bolton has volunteered to give up half her inheritance to her brother?”

I would love to know, but I doubt that the archbish will be explaining any time soon.

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