Islam attacked by both church and state
By James Tweedie
Morning Star, 11 February 2008
ESTABLISHMENT figures launched a spate of attacks on British Muslims this weekend, alleging honour crimes, inbreeding and seeking special treatment under the law.
But former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey accused his beleaguered successor Dr Rowan Williams of “overstating the case for accommodating Islamic legal codes.”
The former head of Britain’s official state religion added: “He may have done us a great favour by airing this whole area of controversy before demand builds among Muslim communities for special provision in British law.
“Some opinion polls have the number of British Muslims wanting to live under sharia law as high as 60 per cent,” Lord Carey claimed.
Despite his opinion that “most Muslims are heartily sick of being in the spotlight,” Lord Carey expressed hope that Britain’s sharia councils, which settle minor disputes without recourse to the civil courts, would be subjected to renewed public attention. “A public debate might bring this country’s existing sharia councils under public scrutiny to ensure that they operate under British law,” he said.
In an echo of Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘rivers of blood’ speech, he warned: “Incorporating sharia tribunals into civil law seems a little bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut – and what it would do for social cohesion doesn’t even bear thinking about.”
Head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor added: “I don’t believe in a multicultural society. When people come into this country, they have to obey the laws of the land.”
Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) member Steve Allen added fuel to the fire when he told the Independent on Sunday – illustrated with a close-up photo of a veiled Muslim woman – that that there were 17,000 “honour” crimes committed in Britain every year.
The phenomenon is popularly associated with immigrants from Middle-Eastern and south Asian countries.
But he admitted that this speculative figure was based on multiplying the 500 annual reported cases by 35 – an estimate of undocumented domestic violence incidents for every one reported to the police.
Mr Allen also failed to mention that around 500,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported every year in Britain.
Environment Minister Phil Woolas further upped the ante of the Muslim-baiting debate when he accused British Pakistanis of creating an epidemic of genetic disorders through consanguineous marriage.
“Part of the risk is first-cousin marriages,” he said, claiming that the problem was “cultural” and blaming the traditions of rural Pakistan.
Mr Woolas complained that there were “sensitivities” in raising awareness of the issue, as many people were the products of such marriages themselves.
Mr Woolas was backed up by Labour chief whip Geoff Hoon and Keighley MP Ann Cryer, who declared: “This is to do with a mediaeval culture where you keep wealth within the family.
“If you go into a paediatric ward in Bradford or Keighley you will find more than half of the kids there are from the Asian community. You can see that they are over-represented.”
“There was one poor girl who had to have an oxygen tank on her back and breathe from a hole in the front of her neck.
“The parents were warned they should not have any more children. But, when the husband returned from Pakistan, within months they had another child with exactly the same condition.”
Indian Workers Association (GB) national general secretary Harsev Bains said: “The well-meaning but ill-timed comments by the archbishop of Canterbury has exacerbated the racist perception of immigrants that has been hyped up by the media.
“It is unhelpful at the time when we no longer have a dedicated Commission for Racial Equality that peoples’ private lives and personal cultural beliefs are being criticised for political reasons.”