Sharia law in UK is 'unavoidable'
By BBC NEWS
Added: Thu, 07 Feb 2008 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Star Spangled Eagle for the link.
The issue of whether Catholic adoption agencies would be forced to accept gay parents under equality laws showed the potential for legal confusion, he said.
"That principle that there is only one law for everybody is an important pillar of our social identity as a western democracy," he said.
"But I think it is a misunderstanding to suppose that means people don't have other affiliations, other loyalties which shape and dictate how they behave in society and that the law needs to take some account of that."
'Custom and community'
Dr Williams noted that Orthodox Jewish courts already operated, and that the law accommodated the anti-abortion views of some Christians.
"The whole idea that there are perfectly proper ways the law of the land pays respect to custom and community, that's already there," he said.
People may legally devise their own way to settle a dispute in front of an agreed third party as long as both sides agree to the process.
Muslim Sharia courts and the Jewish Beth Din which already exist in the UK come into this category.
The country's main Beth Din at Finchley in north London oversees a wide range of cases including divorce settlements, contractual rows between traders and tenancy disputes.
Dr Williams' comments are likely to fuel the debate over multiculturalism in the UK.
Last month, the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said some places in the UK were no-go areas for non-Muslims.
Dr Williams said it was "not at all the case that we have absolute social exclusion".
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