[...] Having seen his attempt to control public reaction go so badly wrong, Dr Williams tried to pretend that he had not said what he did in fact say.
In particular, he told the Synod that he had not been talking about "parallel jurisdictions" of sharia and English law.
But in his lecture he had talked in terms of "supplementary jurisdictions", and suggested an end to Britain's "legal monopoly" so that British Muslims could choose to be dealt with under either sharia or English law.
That inescapably implies everyequal status — or parallel jurisdictions.
But on this point Dr Williams chose be less than transparent — and added to the confusion.
He told the Synod that he merely wanted to offer additional choices for "resolving disputes and regulating transactions".
This implied that all he wanted to do was extend the existing system, already used by both British Muslims and Jews, of informal religious tribunals whose decisions have no force of law.
A "jurisdiction", however, is a very different matter. It is a means of enforcing a body of law.
And indeed, in his lecture Dr Williams actually spoke of "a delegation of certain functions" of English law to sharia courts.
So his disavowal was disingenuous to the point of being downright misleading. Read more
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