Friday, February 08, 2008

Dr. Rowan Williams.

How on earth is one to react to the latest musings of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I was a bit lucky that I was heading out of the country today when BBC Wales rang me. I was boarding the plane when they invited me on to talk about Dr. Rowan Williams' lecture to the Royal Courts of Justice. It would have been walking on very thin ice indeed. It would have been easy if I didn't have such great respect for the man - as a theologian and an academic. But he is not much of a politician. I cannot think of anything more designed to wind up the British people than to suggest that sharia law should apply in some circumstances in our country.

Trouble with Dr. Rowan Williams is that he's a high intellectual. And they are all tend to be the same. Its a bit like when Rhodri Morgan (another intellectual) started going on about the benefits to Welsh tourism that would flow from global warming. He was probably making an interesting point - but it was a stupid commment to make because of the offence it caused. As I understand it, there are already some 'voluntary' concessions to sharia law accepted in the UK - just as there are some concessions to Jewish law. But he's the head of the Church of England. He simply cannot say what he said without causing a storm - especially in the current climate of popular concern about aggressive Islamic fundamentalism. He should have known that he was lighting a very big firework. He knows now.

There are restrictions on what a lot of us can say. This blog has taken the view that the Chief Constable of North Wales shouldn't campaign for the legalisation of all drugs - while he remains in office. There are plenty of things I cannot post on this blog - while I remain a parliamentary candidate. And the Archbishop of Canterbury would have been wise to have not delivered that lecture. Ironically, he has produced a reaction opposite to that which he would have intended.

18 comments:

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Dr. Rowan Williams is not much of a lawyer either.

Alison said...

Best thing I read was from the Independent today, and what the media has been saying is NOT what his essay was about.

As a member of a minority group, I've been subjected to media spin (Deaf issues - all Deaf people specifically want to create deaf designer babies, when its not the case, yet the Sunday Times, etc will spin it otherwise). However, the media loves nothing like sensational spin, which sells papers ... and its a profit margin they are after at the end of the day. The problem with this, people don't have time to read 7,000 words or whatever, and think the media (in good faith) is providing them with an accurate synopsis of intellectual pieces.

The Independent focused on the fact that Rowan Williams said something about *dual* rules. E.g. you are a member of a Tennis Club plus a British citizen. You have to abide by English law, but you're also subject to the rules of a private member's club. How is being a member of the Muslim community any different?

Glyn - I understand you were a previous rugby player. You must have abided by / worked in the boundaries of rugby union rules *and* English law. Dual approach etc. Sure its a simple example, but that's what the public needs.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Christopher Wood said...
Dr. Rowan Williams is not much of a lawyer either.

No, lives far too frugal a life to be one of them!
On the other hand Dr Wood, do you have to comment on every posting Glyn makes???

Liberation Society man said...

The comments of Rowan Williams really inforce the argumant for disestablishment. If the speech had been made by a leading baptist or methodist no one would have taken notice. Barry Morgan often makes non religious observations on life in Wales. They have very little effect because most people do not know who he is. He is sen as an individaul not someoen with advine ight to pontificate on evrything and who has to be listend to. The tragedy with the Rowan Williams episode is that it makes life even harder for Muslims in the UK and delivers a major blow to social cohesion in our country.

Glyn Davies said...

alison - I take your point, even if I'm not sure about the example. The reason I think the Archbishop such a poor politician is that he didn't realise that any mention of concession to sharia law was bound to cause a storm - and the sort of media frenzy there's been. I'm told this morning's Sun is headlined 'Bash the Bishop'.

There are Muslims and Jews who already live by aspects of their own law in Britain today, and here has been no fuss - but Dr Williams is Archbishop of Canterbury.

anon - sometimes Christopher comments twice. Sometimes I think of him as a 'guest' blogger rather than a commenter

penlan said...

I agree with your post but I cannot understand why he did not see it coming.These were not "off the cuff" replies to questions but an important public lecture on which he had been interviewed beforehand on Radio 4.Did no-one in his press office twig?

If he was not such an unworldly character,I would suspect that he deliberately whipped up a storm.

He is a classic example of Orwell's comment-"Only an intellectual would believe that.No ordinary man would be so stupid".

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Dr Rowan Williams has been very silly in trying to be a lawyer - he does not understand that both English law and European law speaks against Sharia law - also women groups hate the way it treats women as second class citizens.

Why is Dr. Williams acting as an advocate for a legal system that treats women as second class citizen, which is in conflict with both English and European justice laws.

Frankly, Dr. Williams should go!

Anon> I'm not a poster, I am a "guest blogger"! Pretty soon I will spending '2.5%' of my time pulling the lambs out.

alanindyfed said...

No he should not go.
"When in Rome do as the Romans do"
says the Bible, but I cannot help thinking that Dr Rowan is on to something here. We are quickly becoming a multi-ethnic society, and British law has a degree of unfairness and injustice within it.
We should take into account the views of other cultures, engage in discussion, and yes - disestablish the Church of England.

Glyn Davies said...

I just do not think that Dr. Rowan Williams can understand what all the fuss is about - and that in itself is a worry. Lambing season starts in about 4 weeks.

Valleys Mam said...

He is a good and honest spiritual man,his comments have been blown up and taken out of context.
I thinkwe should just move on,he did nt say bring in this cultural law.
The media off on one again
I am not C of E supporter but attacking this man is like mugging a teddy bear

Prasit said...

Anon> I'm not a poster, I am a "guest blogger"! Pretty soon I will spending '2.5%' of my time pulling the lambs out.

What a silly reply,a man clearly with too much time on his hands, or not enough readers of his own blog!

Glyn Davies said...

VM - I agree that Dr Rowan Williams seems a 'good and honest spiritual man'. But that is not sufficient.As the Archbishop of Canterbury he has to be a politician as well - and on this issue he does not seem to be speaking for many members of the Church he leads. Worse, he seems to have increased hostility to other faiths in Britain rather than decreased them. The 'political' failure here may well have damaged the standing of the Church. Its not good

prasit - Rather unkind - but I suppose that Christopher can look after himself.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

“Too much time on my hands"? Well, if this Welshman really does have too much time on his hands I guess he needs more work! If anyone has any intellectual property to develop in the USA then send him an email. This Welshman in American charges a lot less than most American law firms (and he has been trained in some of the best law firms in the Midwest), and is a lot better qualified and experienced than most IP lawyers.

Bryn said...

Glyn - lambing started about 2 weeks ago in the Wrexham area!

Glyn Davies said...

Bryn - My farm must be higher than those in the Wrexham area. In fact several farmers lamb from late January around where I live - usually using oldish Suffolk x or Mules. I used to lamb from mid Feb myself, but switched to lambing outside and moved the season to mid March. This comment is for the benefit of non farmers.

Christopher - I don't mind you using my blog to solicit new business

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Glyn: well, in Glaswegian, “That’s me told”.

But seriously, thanks for letting me push ‘the envelope’ a wee bit.

My wee patent/trademark law firm can file patents for Welsh firms directly in the USA and cut out the ‘middle man’ in the UK, I keep meaning to give talks in Wales to new R&D based starts-ups because we can save them an enormous amount of money and file early to get the all important priority date on their inventions. Under US law a non-US based applicant/inventor/company can file their inventions directly with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and my firm is located almost on top of the USPTO.

There are very few genuine IP law firms in Wales – most patent firms in Wales are in fact satellite offices of patent firms located outside Wales, and to file patent inventions in the USA these satellite offices must work through US patent law firms, which means doubling of costs for Welsh start-ups, i.e., paying for ‘local’ patent counsel and also a second bill to US patent counsel, when in fact they can just hire my law firm, which is located very close to the US Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria (near DC); our close proximity means I often conduct F2F interviews with American Patent Examiners which is another boon for saving Welsh start-ups a lot of money – there is no better way to reach a quick conclusion on a patent matter than having a patent/legal hearing directly before the Patent Examiner (and sometimes their boss, a Supervising Patent Examiner). We don’t charge for air-flights or travel time – most US based IP law firms have to pass on these costs or don’t do F2F interviews.

PS Check's in the post. ('Check' here, 'cheque' back in the UK)

Roman Jones said...

So, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams believes that Islamic Sharia law should be enshrined in UK statute, allowing Muslims living here to follow their own codes, which he claims will bring greater social cohesion. I am sorry Mr Williams but that is utter rubbish!

"Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?"

No group can pick and choose what laws of the land they follow and what they do not. If any group wants to follow a different set of laws as those laid down by democratic, constitutional statute, then they are free to leave these shores and find a nation state that does fit in with their World view.

Such a notion will breed greater division and greater ethnic resentment within Britain. What next? Buddhist, Jewish, Pagan, Sun Worshipping, even Jedi law?

This is a unitary state with an established Church and must remain democratic and true to its nation. It cannot be undone to suit any minority.

Rowan Williams says that this sharia law will only apply to Muslims. Firstly, why should one group be given special treatment under the rule of law. This is a fundamental breach with every constitutional doctrine going back to Magna Carta and even before! Secondly, what will be the law if there is a dispute between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Who’s law do you follow?

Any proposal that British Law should be hacked about for political correctness must be resisted!

However, the Elephant in the room that no one notices is that our laws are already being destroyed by our continued membership of the European Union. A little-noticed clause in the recent Counter Terrorism Bill will enable the home secretary to remove the right of trial by jury to any British citizen. This is part of the EU’s ongoing desire to destroy the English legal system. You heard it here first!

Glyn Davies said...

Christopher - I really don't mind!!

roman - We've heard it in many other places already. Remember, I read Christopher Booke's column.