The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently come out in favor of allowing Muslims to settle disputes in courts of Sharia law. The religious leader states that a movement in this direction “seems unavoidable,” arguing that providing access to religious courts for members of minority faiths, including Muslims, would relieve tensions between ethnic and religious communities. The Archbishop qualifies his support by denouncing the use of Sharia law in restrictive and oppressive Muslim regimes, where it compromises women’s rights and basic freedoms. He also suggested that it would not serve as a replacement to British law, but a venue for Islamic marriage and financial disputes.
The statement of the Archbishop has led to a passionate political debate, and both Gordon Brown and his Conservative opponents have expressed opposition to the creation of Sharia courts in Britain. A spokesperson for Gordon Brown states that the PM “believes that British laws should be based on British values.”