Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Islam. trackback The Archbishop of Canterbury is to deliver the keynote address of a lecture series on the role Islamic law might play in Britain, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London announced last week. Dr. Williams will give a lecture entitled “Civil and Religious Law in England: A Religious Perspective” at the Temple Church on Feb 7 in a meeting chaired by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. Following Dr. Williams speech, SOAS’s Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law will facilitate five lectures on the compatibility of Sharia law with the European Convention on Human Rights; Legal Pluralism in Britain-”Should English Law give more Recognition to Islamic Law?”; Human Rights; Free Speech/Incitement to Religious Hatred Laws; and whether religious law allowing the use of force should trump civil law barring its use. In a statement released by SOAS, it noted that while English law had been shaped “in part by the principles and history of Christian culture” it owed “no obedience to any revelation, scripture or doctrine ascribed to God.” English law looked to the “rights and freedoms” of the individual, while Sharia law “has tended to protect and strengthen the community in which it is intended that the individual can then live a devout, good and ordered life.” In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights stated Sharia law “clearly diverges from Convention values, particularly with regard to its criminal law and criminal procedure, its rules on the legal status of women and the way it intervenes in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with religious precepts.” Islamist groups in Britain have pressed the government for a plurality of laws, permitting Islamic jurisprudence to trump the common law when Muslims are before the bar—a point so far rejected by the government. Jewish activists have queried Lambeth Palace about the absence of Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and legal traditions of other minority religions in the lecture series, and have told The Church of England Newspaper that they are perturbed by the apparent privileging of Islam in Britain in the ongoing debate over religion and the law


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