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shanshee_allures
2563 posts

Stupid old fart
Feb 08, 2008, 22:12
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7235550.stm

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dodge one
dodge one
1242 posts

Re: Stupid old fart
Feb 08, 2008, 22:27
Another good reason for seperation of church and state. You know in the last several years here in the states i've heard and read of several instances of Islamic justices being met out to wives, up to and including murder for percieved insults. Why imigrate to another culture if you can't leave that shit behind?
grufty jim
grufty jim
1947 posts

Re: Stupid old fart
Feb 08, 2008, 22:44
Why is he a stupid old fart? For what he said (seemed pretty reasonable to me) or for failing to realise he'd be completely misinterpreted by the media and lambasted for something he never actually said?

He's stupid for not expecting the reaction he got, but what he actually said* made a lot of sense.





* Note: not what the media have claimed he said.
shanshee_allures
2563 posts

Edited Feb 08, 2008, 23:22
Re: Stupid old fart
Feb 08, 2008, 23:17
**Dr Williams said Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".**

He told radio 4. Nothing to do with media hype. I'd like to see where that's actually happening, it actually doesn't (not in Britain anwyay). He is talking nonsense just coz he can IMO.

EDIT: And if anyone can't see that ANY law based on ANY religion is pernicious, dangerous, and damned frightening, more fool them.
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grufty jim
grufty jim
1947 posts

Edited Feb 09, 2008, 00:01
Re: Stupid old fart
Feb 08, 2008, 23:58
The thing with Rowan Williams is that he's unfortunately far too thoughtful a person to ever come across well in the media. Yes, I know he's an archbishop and that makes him -- by definition -- on the other side of the fence from me, but he's also a very very perceptive person.

Let me give you my take on what he said. I'm not suggesting this is The One True interpretation, but given what I know of the man's intelligence, I suspect it's pretty close to what he meant.

Let's start with the quote that has so incensed you...

Dr Williams said Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

What, precisely, is wrong with that statement?

Me? I don't believe that anyone should have to make such a stark choice. I believe that liberal, enlightened governments (i.e. not those of religious states) should attempt to accommodate the cultures of all those who live within the state, so long as it does not transgress the legal and sociocultural norms of the state.

Let's take an example... Islamic law forbids the charging (and by extension, the payment) of interest. It's considered usury and is a sin in their culture. In order to accommodate this, Islamic banks are permitted to sell "Islamic mortgages" in the UK (note: Muslims don't end up paying any less than the rest of us, it's just calculated in a different way so as to avoid interest). Now, I can't say I've examined the details of the Islamic banking system, so I don't know how it works exactly, but it seems to work fine for them, and it ain't hurting you and me.

Why therefore should Muslims not be permitted to organise their finances in a way that is culturally relevant to them? Why should they be forced to make the stark choice between their culture and UK law? (Note: UK law was amended to take the Islamic banking system into account).

So to broaden it out from that single issue, let's place Rowan Williams' words into context.

There is clearly an increasing social friction developing between the Muslim community in the west and mainstream society. One only needs to read about how you're five times more likely to be the target of a random stop-and-search by the police if you "look Asian" than if you're white, to realise that our society runs the risk (if we've not done it already) of ghettoising Muslims (I'm speaking here as much about psychological alienation and ghettoisation as I am about geography).

Now this is an important issue, because marginalised communities have a negative impact on society as a whole. Even if we don't care about the effect of such marginalisation on Muslims, we should do all we can to minimise it for our own benefit.

In this respect, Williams was simply suggesting that in cases where it does not breach UK laws, and where both parties agree to it, then Muslims should be able to choose to have civil disputes settled in Sharia courts as opposed to UK civil courts.

It's important that we read and digest those provisos. Williams is not suggesting that Sharia should ever supersede UK law. And he was not suggesting that it should ever be applicable to criminal cases.

In fact, and I think this is where people really need to read the totality of what he said rather than appealing to a single quote out of context, Williams was simply suggesting that Muslims should be afforded the same rights as Jews.

See, Orthodox Jews living in the UK can already agree to have civil cases heard in the London Beth Din. They already have this right under English law. Williams was merely suggesting that if we already afford such a right to one community (and have done for a long time), then it's racism -- pure and simple -- to deny the same rights to another community.

Williams was not suggesting that a UK Sharia Court have any more jurisdiction or power than the London Beth Din. What dismayed him -- and dismays me -- is how this debate is clearly being manipulated by cynical anti-muslim sentiment. Lots of calling for Rowan's resignation. Lots of people saying "Sharia? Over my dead body!" But nobody making a fuss about the fact that the Beth Din can see Jewish divorce cases, and the Pope in Rome can annul Catholic marriages. But when a Muslim asks to be treated in the same way? Out come the objections.

Now. Having said all that, I'm going to backtrack quite a lot. You see, I don't believe that Sharia should be introduced. Because I don't believe that laws based on a thousand-year-old dogma should be applied to modern people (even if that's what they want... my views of religious dogma are pretty militant).

HOWEVER, so long as Jews and (to a lesser extent) Catholics enjoy such rights, and so long as there isn't an equal clamour to have other religious courts outlawed, then singling out Sharia smacks of racism.


NOTE: VERY IMPORTANT POINT!! I am NOT suggesting anyone here is being racist. Fact is, most people aren't aware of the London Beth Din and the fact that Jews already have the right to a religious court in civil cases. And I'm sure that you, shanshee, will agree with me when I say that none of these courts should be in operation. But wouldn't you also agree that so long as we allow one culture to enact religious law, that (again, so long as it does not actually contradict local law) we need to be consistent and allow others also? And wouldn't you agree that the huge focus on Sharia combined with the near total-silence on the Beth Din, is indicative of generalised prejudice within the media, and society in general?
dodge one
dodge one
1242 posts

Re: Stupid old fart
Feb 09, 2008, 00:08
I'm sure i'm generalising {Or just gettin' to the point?}, but during my travels throughout the world i have allways repected the laws of the lands that i have trodden. It's not hard to be a good citizin of the world.
grufty jim
grufty jim
1947 posts

Edited Feb 09, 2008, 00:24
Re: Stupid old fart
Feb 09, 2008, 00:20
dodge one wrote:
I'm sure i'm generalising {Or just gettin' to the point?}, but during my travels throughout the world i have allways repected the laws of the lands that i have trodden. It's not hard to be a good citizin of the world.

Well, I admit that I've not. I smoke pot, and in the past have taken any number of "controlled" substances. "Bad laws beget bad people" as the old saying goes, and should be resisted for precisely that reason.

As I say, though, I'm genuinely not advocating the introduction of Sharia law in the UK (or anywhere else). I'm just offended by the blatant injustice of allowing one community a right that is denied to another. And the way this debate is being spun in the media is little short of outrageous.

With the exception of Rowan Williams' speech, who here (honestly) knew about the London Beth Din? I know I did, but that's only because I lived in Golders Green for two years. I wouldn't have otherwise. So given the fact that you can't pick up a paper at the moment without reading the word "Sharia" and how it's an outrage, and yet the words "Beth Din" never seem to appear, what does that tell you about the media and society in general?

EDIT: And what was wrong with Rowan Williams highlighting this injustice? His actual point was that if the UK can tolerate Jewish courts that operate within national laws, then it needs to tolerate Muslim courts that do the same. It's a simple, and not very controversial, point and I'm dismayed, though not surprised, that the media have acted so unpleasantly.
dodge one
dodge one
1242 posts

Re: Stupid old fart
Feb 09, 2008, 00:32
I expect the perception is: what is a culture {in it's current equilibrium}willing to embrace? Which leads me to think outloud... If someone from say {hypothetically} Argentina? wanted to travel the world to experiance various cultures. Supposing his impression of London,paris or rome was, How come everyone here seems to be from the Mid east ? Would said person be wrong to feel that way? Is cultural identity worth preserving at all? Just curious to see what people think.
grufty jim
grufty jim
1947 posts

Re: Stupid old fart
Feb 09, 2008, 00:39
dodge one wrote:
I expect the perception is: what is a culture {in it's current equilibrium}willing to embrace? Which leads me to think outloud... If someone from say {hypothetically} Argentina? wanted to travel the world to experiance various cultures. Supposing his impression of London,paris or rome was, How come everyone here seems to be from the Mid east ? Would said person be wrong to feel that way? Is cultural identity worth preserving at all? Just curious to see what people think.


Is cultural identity worth preserving at all?

Sadly I'm just about to head offline (movie, then bed) but that's a good topic for debate. Maybe I'll have a crack at it over the next couple of days.

One thing I will say though, is that Muslims only comprise 2.8% of the UK population. And while most of them would indeed be of Middle-Eastern / Asian appearance, your hypothetical Argentinian visitor would have to restrict their visit to some very specific communities to get the impression that "everyone here seems to be from the Middle East".
shanshee_allures
2563 posts

Edited Feb 09, 2008, 02:30
Re: Stupid old fart
Feb 09, 2008, 01:49
Any decision that is made in one of the specially created civil courts as you highlight still needs the final stamp of British law, as in divorce settlements etc. They exist (I believe) simply to allow people to reach an accordance within a certain cultural context. Now if I am not 100% accurate there I don't think that really matters too much.

But part of my worry is, won't any court concerned with Shariah law, exclude women a great deal? If you have any female friends or relations who you care about, hopefully you feel at least a twinge at that one too.

Do we just say, 'oh but that's their culture'? Well It isn't ours! And how many Muslim women might inwardly feel the same way! Never to be heard! People can practice their beliefs till their eyeballs pop out, matters not, but we can not sanction any judicial process that systematically excludes women from becoming or choosing to maybe become part of it, never to have any say or influence etc.

A very simple point, but as the mum of a 4 year old girl (who WILL have the confidence to make her own mind up in this damn place), it is plain fundamental!

EDIT: I've heard all the media hooha and it's been a load of silly (and most likely racist) bollocks I agree. Just feel the 'old fart' is looking from his Ivory Tower a bit here...and I haven't read anything that suggests he actually knows exactly what he's talking about either. I get not to as I'm not a bloody archbishop! Comes across an an ecclesiastical take on Springsteen/ Young throwing in some cod Middle Eastern guitar bends and supportin' 'the other guys';-)

FROM The Independent:

**Diana Nammi from the Iranian & Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation, which helps victims of forced marriages and those at risk of honour killings, said any suggestion of supplementary sharia courts would not be welcomed by Muslim women and said her group would fight for "one law for all" in Britain.

Shahid Malik, the Labour MP for Dewsbury, an area with a large Muslim population, said: "I haven't experienced any clamour to have sharia law in this country. If there are people who prefer sharia law there are always countries where they could go and live."**

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/church-moves-to-the-defence-of-archbishop-780187.html

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