Friday, February 08, 2008

An evil old goat...

... could be a description of some representations of the devil. In this case, though, it's obviously the Archbishop of Canterbury. Netch'relly.

Matthew Sinclair has a close analysis of the Evil Old GoatTM's proposals—including more extensive quotes from the actual interview and his Temple speech [PDF]—and doesn't tremendously approve. You should go and read the whole thing, but here are some choice quotes.
This is going to be a long post and I'll touch on a number of problems but what is interesting is that I've actually become more, not less, angry. The fact is that Williams isn't just another tranzi trying to undermine the British nation. He is also an idiot who cynically substitutes an excess of terminology and a quiet voice for a coherent and consistent argument.

Williams' idea is a hideous one and expressed in terms that are insulting to those who believe in the highest Western principles. He is abusing his position in the British establishment to normalise an agenda deeply hostile to our most important values. He is not fit to be Archbishop of Canterbury.

This is the measured Mr Sinclair's equivalent of calling someone "a fucking evil little cunt" so suffice to say that Matthew's not happy; not happy at all.

UPDATE: here's Ruth Gledhill in the Times.
The Archbishop has staked everything on trying to maintain unity in his own Anglican Communion. At the same time, he is advocating a policy that could only fragment the society around him.

If you doubt me, watch this, above.

Or this, below.

I am particularly anamoured of the guys in the second video shouting "UK, you will burn! Burn, burn, UK, burn!" Naturally, of course, those starting this chanting—and every single one of those who join in—are just random extremists and definitely not, in any way, representative of Muslims in this country.
A few weeks ago, I was chatting to a woman who works in an advocacy role for Muslim women in an area that, quite independently of the Bishop of Rochester, she described as a 'no-go area' for non-Muslims. Her clients were women in the process of being sectioned into mental health units in the NHS. This woman, who for obvious reasons begged not to be identified, told me: "The men get tired of their wives. Or bored. Or maybe the wife objects to her daughter being forced into a marriage she doesn't want. Or maybe she starts wearing western clothes.There can be many reasons. The women are sent for asssessment to a hospital. The GP referring them is Muslim. The psychiatrist assessing them is Muslim and male. I have sat in these assessments where the psychiatrist will not look the woman patient in the eye because she is a woman. Can you imagine! A psychiatrist refusing to look his patient in the eye? The woman speaks little or no English. She is sectioned. She is divorced. There are lots of these women in there, locked up in these hospitals. Why don't you people write about this?"

My interlocuter went very red and almost started to cry. Instead, she began shouting at me. I was a member of the press. "You must write about this," she begged.

"I can't," I said. "Not unless you become a whistle-blower. Or give me some evidence. Or something."

She shook her head. "I can't be identified," she said. "I would be killed. And so would the women."

So there you have it. After weeks of wondering what to do, inspired by the Archbishop, I've taken her word that she is telling the truth, respected her anonymity, and written it anyway.

And this, I imagine, is what the Archbishop wants for the whole of England.

It is the role of women in Shari'a that particularly offends me. It also rather gives the lie to the idea that people could choose what law they live under: Muslim women already face considerable danger, in some areas, if they throw themselves upon the mercy of Engish law; to validate Shari'a would be a terrible betrayal of these people.

Matthew Sinclair also points to a couple of legal opinions, which put in context what the Archbishop was proposing. The first is from Michael Roffen (Word Doc) and which I reproduce below.
English law and the Shari'a

English law is rooted in the Judaeo-Christian tradition and, in particular, our notions of human freedoms derive from that tradition. In my view, it would be simply impossible to introduce a tradition, like Shari'a, into this Corpus without fundamentally affecting its integrity.

The Shari'a is not a generalised collection of dispositions. It is articulated in highly concrete codes called fiqh. It would have to be one or the other, or all, of these which would have to be recognised. All of these schools would be in tension with the English legal tradition on questions like monogamy, provisions for divorce, the rights of women, custody of children, laws of inheritance and of evidence. This is not to mention the relation of freedom of belief and of expression to provisions for blasphemy and apostasy.

We should learn from the debate on this question which recently took place in Canada. Here it was mainly Muslim women’s groups that succeeded in preventing the application of Islamic law in matrimonial matters. The importance of a single law for all was strongly re-affirmed.

As with the Beth-din of the Jewish community, it is perfectly possible for religious communities to rule on personal, family and financial matters as long as this does not interfere with the workings of the law of the land. People can use such rulings to inform their conscience and to submit to them voluntarily. Conscientious objection, on religious grounds, should be recognised by the law of the land, as far as possible, but this is quite different from a parallel system of law operating alongside it.

We welcome progressive views on the development of Shari'a. These will enable Muslims to relate better to the contemporary world and will ease the situation of non-Muslims in many Muslim countries. They are not, however, an argument for disturbing the integrity of a legal tradition which is rooted in the quite different moral and spiritual vision deriving from the Bible.

+Michael Roffen
7 February 2008

The second is from Dr James Behrens (RTF) and further cocerns the interpretation of foreign law within our English law.
To what extent is is permissible for Sharia law to be part of English law?

Sharia law is not part of English law. Sharia law is treated by English law as a foreign law. The courts sometimes need evidence of what foreign law is on a particular matter, in order to decide rights in accordance with English law. Foreign law is a matter of evidence to be brought before the English Court.

For example, if the question arises in an English Court as to the validity of a will made by a Muslim in Pakistan, evidence will be admitted as to the law which would be applied in Pakistan. The English courts would then apply English law to determine whether, if the will was validly made in Pakistan, it should be treated as a valid will in English law. The answer in fact is yes – see the Wills Act 1963, a part of English law.

Similarly, if the question arises in an English Court as to whether two persons were validly married in a Muslim country, the court would receive evidence of the marriage laws of that country, and then decide, as a matter of English law, whether or not the couple are validly married. See the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 s. 14 and the Foreign Marriage Act 1892.

Although the English Courts may thus have to enquire what the foreign law is on a matter, this is a matter of evidence, a matter of fact. They will determine that as a matter of fact the foreign law says such and such. Then, applying English law to this fact, the court reaches its conclusion as a matter of English law on the issue it has to decide.

There is no question of the English Court applying Sharia law in this process. The English Court applies English law, and would not consider itself competent to apply any other law. In the same way, the English Court would be incompetent to apply French law to a dispute about a French property. Instead the English Court would receive evidence as to French property law, and apply that to the issue the English Court had to decide.

The foundations of English law include of course Acts of Parliament and the common law. Ecclesiastical law (the law of the Church of England) is part of the law of English Law, partly because the Church of England is the Established Church. The law of other Christian denominations is not part of English Law, but is treated as a foreign law. So, too, is Jewish and Muslim law. If the question arises as to the validity of a Jewish or a Muslim divorce, the court will hear evidence on the matter and decide as a matter of English law the answer.

An example of the English Court ascertaining Sharia law but applying English law is Basma Sulaiman Al Sulaiman v Walid Ahmed Al Juffali reported (2002) 1 FLR 479 and The Times, November 28, 2001. In this case the court heard and accepted the evidence of two experts on Sharia law that a Muslim talaq pronounced in England and Wales had the effect under Sharia Law of dissolving a marriage as soon as it was pronounced. However the court held that as a matter of English law a Muslim talaq was an informal divorce obtained otherwise than through a court and therefore could not be recognised in English law as validly dissolving the marriage.

The whole of England and Wales is under the jurisdiction of the Courts. The only way Sharia law could apply directly to a particular area would be for the jurisdiction of the Courts over that area to be removed, and for a Sharia court system to replace it. That would require an Act of Parliament to create a separate jurisdiction (from the Latin ius, iuris meaning "law" and dicere meaning "to speak") in which the Queen's rule no longer applied. The constitutional and political implications of this are immense.

Dr James Behrens, Barrister

Both of these articles address the comparisons that many have been making between the Shari'a and the Jewish Beth-Din.

I must admit that I know little about the Beth-Din, and would be happy to be enlightened. However from what I know of Shari'a, some of the central tenets upon which it rests—especially its attitude to women—are entirely unacceptable under our English law.

Further, I am afraid that I have no wish to give the slightest encouragement to those Islamists who would wish to spread Shari'a throughout the world. And, just to be even-handed, this applies not simply to Muslims and Shari'a, but to any bunch of lunatics who believe that a sky-fairy has told them precisely how they should live their everyday lives and who would force me—a person who does not share their lunatic beliefs—to live in that way too.

Fuck them and fuck their sky-fairies.


John B said...

Roffen wins double idiot points for:

"They are not, however, an argument for disturbing the integrity of a legal tradition which is rooted in the quite different moral and spiritual vision deriving from the Bible."

#1 - anyone who says English law is based on the Bible, or that this would be a good thing if it were true, is just as stark raving mad as the people who'd base it on the Qu'ran

#2 - Sharia is based on the Bible anyway - Muslims treat the Torah as a holy book, and their laws are also based on the Abrahamic code...

John B said...

[also, a fiver says the "sectioning" stuff from the Top Secret Source Who'd Be Killed If She Spoke Out, Even Though She Already Runs A Charity Aiding The People In Question And Therefore Presumably Would Already Have Been Killed If Anyone Was Going To Kill Her is a figment of Gledhill's imagination.]

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see john b going to Saudi Barbaria and getting pulled by the Muttawa - then see his attitude towards these fucktards afterwards.

Note john b: I HAVE been pulled by the religious loons once when I was transiting through Saudi Barbaria on my motorbike. To this day I don't know why I was pulled and have always assumed it was because my wife was riding pillion.

It was fucking scary mate, and I'd like to see it happen to you. Sharia law is no law at all - it is the whim of the local powerful man, and it can change from day to day.

You haven't got a fucking clue what you're talking about. Wanker.

Simon Fawthrop said...

Regarding Beth-Din, they had the head guy from the London on Today this morning and it was quite interesting. Although I didn't hear all the interview what I did hear was interesting.

From what I gathered, Beth-Din is more akin to an arbitration service. They don't want to be seen as outside the law and only deal with willing participants.

As far as divorce is concerened the civil courts can annul the legal side of the marriage but not the Jewish (releious) part, this has to be a Jewish court.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I feel uncomfortable about this. I know that's a very wet liberal thing to say, but I am not a wet lib, I am a right winger with libertarian, not liberal tendencies and I detest Muslims in this country trying to tell us what to do.

However, I am uncomfortable with this.

Surely, libertarians ask for the right to run their own affairs? Surely, there are groups of Muslims in this country who wan to do that. Now, I think they should fuck off back to whatever shithole it is that they, or their parents, came from, but while they are here, does the state have a right to intervene in non-criminal cases if all parties agree to use the arbitrational services of their religion?

And by the way thanks for an intelilgent and insightful presentation of this, DK

purplepangolin said...

@John B 05:58

I think that saying that our legal tradition is rooted in the Bible is not at all the same thing as saying that it is a literal reading of the Bible. For good or ill, our laws have evolved over a long period of time as a reflection of what our society considers to be just and moral. During the majority of this period, we have been a largely Christian society, so our consideration of what is just and moral will inevitably have been coloured by this.

john b said...

@ Henry - that's because you were in a dodgy third-world country without the rule of law, not because of sharia in-and-of-itself (I know people who've had equally terrifying run-ins with the police in Thailand, Mexico, India and Russia, none of which places are especially Islamic.)

Anonymous said...

The whole point John is that they were NOT police - they were Muttawa. RELIGIOUS "police". I've had a proper police officer in Turkey trying to extract money from me; a soldier's gun rammed into my nose in Hama, Syria, while his pals started in on my wife; the Mutts in Saudi as related. Do you know about the number the Syrian army did on Hama? It's own people. How do you suppose Islamics would behave with us, here, if they had the power to do so? And people like you want to let the camel's nose into the tent.

Are you old enough to remember the Lebanese civil war from start to finish? Want that here do you? Because that's how it's going to end up if we carry on as we are.

Why should we take the slightest chance? More particularly, why should I take the slightest chance? Or my daughter, sisters, nieces etc? If you want to take the chance, you're welcome. I suggest you try one of the tribal regions in Pakistan (where Christians and Hindus are not even allowed to bury their dead - they have to transport the bodies down to Punjab to do it).

In Greece, had a policeman insisting on buying our lunch then reminding us to drive carefully in his country and to be sure to enjoy ourselves. Had a copper in Holland stopping to help me fix my bike at the side of the road.

Are we beginning to see some contrasts and commonalities here?

Islam is not good for non-Islamics.

john b said...

Yes, I've encountered some nice foreign policemen as well. And the only time I've been genuinely terrified was after being stopped by a drunk (Hindu) motorbike cop in Mumbai. I don't think your "Muslim coppers evil, other coppers good" distinction can be justified in the real world.

[and as I'm sure you know, the Turkish police force is notoriously secular, and famous for arresting and beating people for being too Islamic..]

Anonymous said...


Fair enough from your POV, but I speak as I find.

And I will take up arms before I'll see Sharia officially accepted in this country.

THAT is not open to debate. I suspect I'm far from alone. Indeed, I KNOW I'm far from alone.

Over my dead body.

Political Scientist said...

Wrinkled weasel wrote:

Surely, libertarians ask for the right to run their own affairs? Surely, there are groups of Muslims in this country who wan to do that. Now, I think they should fuck off back to whatever shithole it is that they, or their parents, came from, but while they are here, does the state have a right to intervene in non-criminal cases if all parties agree to use the arbitrational services of their religion?

I agree completely, but this is already the case. As litigation is so expensive, the state encourages the resolution of civil disputes by any sort of arbitration procedure, be it some form of the “Shari’a”, the Beth Din, or the secular ACAS , provided that (i) it is reasonable and (ii) all parties to a dispute agree to abide by the judgement. The decision can be challenged in the courts, so there is no question of parallel jurisdictions, and the law maintains supremacy. This seems eminently compatible with libertarianism: doubly so, as it saves on the taxpayer shelling out for civil courts.

Pace the objections of the “what’s the problem, the Orthodox Jews do it and you’re a stupid bigot” lobby, all the “problems” that have arisen are resolvable by the law as it stands: business disputes, marriages, divorces and food laws. “This is certified kosher/halal by the … court” can be treated as trademarks of particular courts in civil law, legally the same as the Soil Associations seal of approval. The Civil side of the marriage/divorce is dealt with by the state, the religious side by the appropriate religious authorities.

Despite the best efforts of the Archbishop’s defenders, this was not what he is calling for (it clearly cannot be, as this is how the law stands at the moment). He is saying something much more dangerous.

From the speech:

I have been arguing that a defence of an unqualified secular legal monopoly in terms of the need for a universalist doctrine of human right or dignity is to misunderstand the circumstances in which that doctrine emerged, and that the essential liberating (and religiously informed) vision it represents is not imperilled by a loosening of the monopolistic framework.

He is disputing that the state has a monopoly on the law (if the defence is “not imperilled” by “loosening the monopolistic framework”), a bizarre concept that must be antithetical to libertarianism*. After all, the bedrock of libertarian belief is in strong property rights: as these do not exist in a state of nature, the State is required to enforce them. (I use property rights in the broadest sense here, including right to life and so forth). Now, communities can and will consent to additional “laws” or rules to which their community is subject, but that is within this framework: all must be subject to the rule of law.

Otherwise this would not be libertarianism, it would be anarchy.

* At least, as far as I understand it. I’m more than ready to be corrected by DK, Winkled Weasel and the other libertarians on this list.

Anonymous said...

This blog is a creepy joke. It calls itself the devil and then claims to be spokesman for the church fuck off. This is crap. Why is it the sun newspaper which is just scum slag newspaer has the gall insult the pious bishop. He di not call for the retun of sharia law extreme elemets he called for moderate lemts of it.

Anonymous said...

Detentions under the Mental Health Act appear to have doubled in recent years for both men and women. I can't see any data that includes the religious affiliation of those detaineed.

Anonymous said...

Shitaria law is already here. Banks offer 'muslim friendly' loans (eg based on Shitaria law) Achmed can claim for his 20 wives (again based on a certain law that allows men to take more than one wife) and that nice Mr Brown is going to look into 'islam friendly' stamp duty arrangements.

muslim employees at supermarkets can refuse to handle pork or booze (shitaria law again) and refuse to compy with hygenie laws whilst training as doctors due to a certain law again.

To go back to the old Arab proverb about the camel in the tent, I would say that the old humped one has got half his body into our tent and will soon be moving in and making himself more and more comfortable.

Roger Thornhill said...

politcial Scientist: Rule of law is paramount IMHO. Sharia, being inquisitional, undermines Rule of Law. Sharia is of Totalitarianism. It will not consent willingly to people opting out. It has the arrogance that springs from the conceit of divine inspiration.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

That would require an Act of Parliament to create a separate jurisdiction (from the Latin ius, iuris meaning "law" and dicere meaning "to speak") in which the Queen's rule no longer applied. The constitutional and political implications of this are immense.

Yeh, now which other jurisdiction might this apply to? Funny how there isn't anywhere near the same outcry over European law...

Anonymous said...

"English law is rooted in the Judaeo-Christian tradition and, in particular, our notions of human freedoms derive from that tradition.."
Er, except that it isn't. English law is based on Germanic & Scandinavian law. Law made by men, regarding men, judged by men. No gods consulted, particularly Abraham's who wasn't around at the time. It was the involvement of the church in law during the middle ages that burnt heretics & tortured dissenters. One of the greatest accomplishments of the UK legal system has been getting religion out of law again.

Longrider said...

English Common Law is still known as "The Law between men" - so, yes, no deities needed.

Anonymous said...

It was the involvement of the church in law during the middle ages that burnt heretics & tortured dissenters.

Well I grant you that the church penalised heretics and dissenters. However, it is not a wholly one sided story. The church was far less likely to find someone guilty of being a witch than the local courts, for example.

It is certainly true that English law was based upon natural law, but it is foolish to pretend that during a more than thousand year dominance, Christianity did not strongly influence the law.

Of course some cultural relativists would claim that the western liberal tradition which grew out of the Enlightenment, has no Christian component and could have grown in any culture. Given the here and now I would suggest that it is for them to prove rather than me.

Anonymous said...

DK -


Who is this Michael Roffen of whom Mr. Sinclair and you write?

Hint: "Roffen" is not his surname; it is the latinised name of his see.

NHS Fail Wail

I think that we can all agree that the UK's response to coronavirus has been somewhat lacking. In fact, many people asserted that our de...