Friday, 15 February 2008

Islamophobia rears its ugly head again

[...] I suppose what I'm saying is that we need to get a grip. Yes, Islamic fundamentalism is a threat, a big one, just as communism was, and just as fascism was. But we must have a sense of proportion.

There is such a thing as a moderate Muslim and there are aspects of Sharia that don't involve losing limbs, heads or being stoned to death, and that don't involve the denigration of women.

Those aspects are what Rowan Williams was pointing to. If a Muslim wants to use Islamic law to adjudicate in matters financial, or in a family dispute, then why not let him (or her), and have that decision recognised under English law?

This was his argument and you might think it wrong-headed or naive but it really doesn't deserve the opprobrium that has been heaped on him because of it in recent days.

The integration of Muslims into Western societies is a genuine problem. Obviously it is, or we wouldn't have had the July 7 bombings or the riots in Paris in August 2006, not to mention 9/11.

Integrating Muslims is a two-way process. We have to accommodate them to the fullest extent that is compatible with our most fundamental values, and they have to do a better job policing their own militants and encouraging their members to identify with their adopted country.

But what does accommodating them entail? Does it involve going as far as Archbishop Williams suggests? Or does it mean making them exactly like us? I hope not. What certainly won't help this debate is the sort of genuine Islamophobia on display this week.

Rowan Williams is a decent, honest man. He is not Islamic fundamentalism's 'useful idiot'. What he had to say deserved a much more serious and respectful response than it got. Read more
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1 comment:

Peter Kirk said...


What aspects of Sharia family law do not involve denigration of women? As for financial matters, contracts can already be agreed according to Sharia principles and are binding in English law. So, in practice, what changes to the current situation can be made which "don't involve losing limbs, heads or being stoned to death, and that don't involve the denigration of women"? This is the question which I have never seen answered right through this debate.