Lord Chief Justice: British Muslims should be able to live under Shari’a Law
Matthew Parris has an excellent article in The Times, on the philosophical point of ‘equality’, and how Shari’a jurisprudence is incompatible with English law which advocates equality for all under the law. He also identifies those crucial contentious areas of debate which the Lord Chief Justice avoided, and noted his support for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s view that we may develop jurisdictions within a jurisdiction:
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. To quote him again ‘the refusal of a religious believer to act upon the legal recognition of a right is not, given the plural character of society, a denial to anyone inside or outside the community of access to that right'.
Mr Parris is right to point out that it is by no means certain that a group of individuals may voluntarily conduct themselves according to Shari’a without breaking English law: ‘It depends what Shari’a says. We are not free under English law to agree (however willingly) to break English law. We may not agree to discriminate on racial or (usually) on religious grounds against third parties or even each other. A woman may not agree to accept diminished employment rights. We may not agree to punish each other (as elsewhere Phillips acknowledges) unlawfully. Without a clear account of what Shari’a demands, Lord Phillips cannot know.’
And he summarises the Archbishop’s contribution that ‘in a multicultural society it is fine for people within a culture to agree not to exercise certain rights, even if English law would allow them to’. This becomes:
...a charter for male dominance. It's a charter for cultural bullying; for peer-group pressurising; for self-oppression. It's a charter against women and teenagers who cannot make wholly free choices because they have nowhere else to go; a charter against individuals whose circumstances have made it difficult to think outside the cultural box; a charter for discreet duress. I am sorry to hear the Lord Chief Justice endorsing it.
Cranmer is not only sorry; he is aghast at the level of ignorance displayed by Lord Phillips. The proposal is not the same as Roman Catholic or Beth Din courts: Shari’a is not some conveniently codified system of law which, as in the English tradition of case law and convention, has straightforward meaning and is applied uniformly; it has itself developed over a millennium with labyrinthine interpretations, is applied variously and variably throughout the Islamic world, and is antithetical to Christian notions of justice and mercy. It is inadequate for the Lord Chief Justice to advocate Shari’a in England without identifying which Shari’a he means, and who will adjudicate on which aspects of Shari’a are to be admitted and which are not; and also by what right should this distinction be made by a non-Muslim.
And when he begins to answer such questions, it will dawn on him that there will emerge a Muslim High Justice to set down the law on arranged marriage, the subjection and seclusion of women, unequal divorce and property arrangements within marriage, freedom to convert, preaching hatred against apostasy, or the ostracising of homosexuals.
Cranmer has considered for a while that the destruction of the United Kingdom is a collusion between the politicians, the clerics and the judiciary. Yet none of them understand the theology of this agenda, for it will eventually subjugate the laws of England and Wales to a totalitarian religio-political system. Shari’a is a code of law which cannot be subject to secular law, for the secular is to be brought into the Dar al-Islam through jihad. Shari’a transcends the laws of the secular state and Western notions of ‘liberty’ or ‘rights’, and it is a tragedy for the nation that the most senior judges and clerics cannot see this.
O Lord, open their eyes.