Archbishop defends comments
Dr Rowan Williams said some aspects of Sharia law in the UK are "unavoidable"
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Saturday, 09, Feb 2008 07:40
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams faces ongoing pressure to resign after he made comments on the status of Sharia law in the UK.
The religious leader is expected to survive the barrage of criticism because of strong support from among senior Church of England figures.
Dr Williams has been attacked from the media, politicians as well as members of his own diocese after he told the BBC, ahead of a speech at the Royal Courts of Justice, that the introduction of certain aspects of the Islamic legal system in the UK were already "recognised in our society and under our law" and further regulations could be "unavoidable" in the future.
A statement on the clergyman's official website stated: "There has been a strong reaction in the media and elsewhere to the Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks of yesterday on civil and religious law."
It added: "The Archbishop made no proposals for Sharia in either the lecture or the interview, and certainly did not call for its introduction as some kind of parallel jurisdiction to the civil law.
In response to the comments to the archbishop's comments, home secretary Jacqui Smith said there is only "one law" in the UK and that it is the "democratically determined law".
"That is the law that I will uphold and that is the law that is at the heart of the values that we share across all communities in this country," she told Channel 4 News.
Two members of the Synod have urged Dr Williams to step down from his position after criticising his leadership of the church.
Colonel Edward Armitstead, a Synod member from the diocese of Bath and Wells said: "I don't think he is the man for the job.
"One wants to be charitable, but I sense that he would be far happier in a university where he can kick around these sorts of ideas."
A Synod member from London, Alison Ruoff, said: "He is a disaster for the Church of England. He vacillates, he is a weak leader and he does not stand up for the Church. I would like to see him resign and go back to academia."
Others have been more sympathetic. The Dean of Liverpool Cathedral, the Very Reverend Justin Welby, told the Newsnight programme he considered Dr Williams one of Britain's "great thinkers".
And the Bishop of Hulme has blamed the media for the current crisis, saying too many journalists were not fully considering the arguments Dr Williams had been putting forward.
"What has depressed me over the last 24 hours is the way in which particularly the tabloid media haven't bothered to read the text of the original lecture or indeed the shortened text of the broadcast to find out what he said," he commented.