The Muslim Council of Britain is grateful for the thoughtful intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the discussion of the place of Islam and Muslims in Britain today.
The MCB observes, with some sadness, the hysterical misrepresentations of his speech which serves only to drive a wedge between British people.
“The Archbishop is not advocating implementation of the Islamic penal system in Britain. His recommendation is confined to the civil system of Shariah Law and that only in accordance with English law and agreeable to established notions of human rights”, said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the MCB.
British Muslims are not calling for creation of different legal systems, nor is the Archbishop. We do not wish to see a parallel system or a separate system of judiciary for Muslims. The Archbishop sought in his speech to explore the possibilities of an accommodation between English law and some aspects of Islamic personal law.
British Muslims would wish to seek parity with other faiths in particular the followers of the Jewish faith in the United Kingdom in facilitating choices for those who wish, as Muslims, for their personal relationships to be governed by a Shariah civil code. This legitimate aspiration requires full discussion in an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance. It is worthy of note that already enshrined in English law are provisions for Islamic Shariah compliant finance which have become very popular and now enable billions of pounds of fresh investment to come into the UK.
“Our common mission to live in cohesion and harmony is better served when men of conscience and authority speak out for justice and equal opportunity. Silence is much more likely to engender prejudice, injustice and inequality. On the issue of giving individuals choice of law but only in private and personal matters, we call, as does the Archbishop, for a mature debate in an environment that reflects mutual respect.” said Dr Bari.