Friday, 15 February 2008

Church Times: Lambeth endures protests and Page 3 girls in sharia row

A LONE protester, Muslim groups, and the Prime Minister offered their support to Dr Williams this week — despite strong criticism from many politicians, leaders of the Anglican Communion (including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey), and large sections of the media.

The opposition to Dr Williams was on an unprecedented scale: the BBC received a record number of emails after the Archbishop was interviewed on The World at One on Thursday — almost all vehemently disagreeing with him. Many web forums were also filled with negative and intemperate comments against him.

“If The Sun can send its Page 3 girls to Lambeth, I felt I had to come as well,” said Steve Rhodes, a barrister who wore a placard with the words “Support Rowan Williams” and “More reason, less fear” during a one-man protest on Monday.

The Prime Minister also spoke in support, saying that Dr Williams was a man of “great integrity”. A Downing Street spokesman added on Monday that Mr Brown understood the “difficulties” Dr Williams was facing.

The Muslim Council of Great Britain said that there should be debate within the British legal system as to whether a small aspect of Muslim family and personal law about marriage, divorce, custody, and inheritance could be accommodated.

The Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations in Cambridge said that there should be deeper reflection in the light of the Archbishop’s lecture, which “had been taken out of context and blown out of proportion”.

The Christian Muslim Forum described Dr Williams’s lecture as “significant”, and that he had raised the vital issue of how to allow religious conscience and belief within the framework of UK law. Read more
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