Well – the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, seems to have caused more fuss than he might have anticipated. If you see the papers today – you will see why: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7234152.stm
What is not clear, really, is what he actually said/meant… You can listen to his actual comments via the BBC page at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7233335.stm
Was he suggesting that we allow some communities to opt out of the British criminal law? I don’t think he meant this at all. He seemed to actually be referrring to very particular civil matters – like divorce an finance – rather than the caricature of his view that some of the papers have gone for….
He points out that we already have accommodations within the law for Orthodox Jews, and for Roman Catholic views – what he suggests, whether you like it or not (and I am not sure I do), is not a new thing, or a first…
For details on the way in which religious courts are already in use in the UK see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7233040.stm
It is almost more interesting to look at the reaction, than it is is to listen to his actual comments: the word Shariah is so provocative that it causes such a cloud of panic that no one can see through it….