SHARIA LAW WILL BREED EXTREMISM
By Macer Hall
Wednesday February 27,2008
David Cameron yesterday issued a stark warning that allowing the influence of Muslim sharia law to grow in Britain would undermine society and breed Islamic extremism.
The Tory leader launched a blistering attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury for saying there should be more recognition of the Islamic legal code.
He described recent remarks by Dr Rowan Williams as a recipe for legal apartheid.
The attack came in Mr Camerons most trenchant criticism yet of multicultural policies.
He claimed decades of state multiculturalism had encouraged racial separation with disastrous results.
And he argued that the Archbishop was promoting a dangerous idea that different communities should have separate laws.
Mr Camerons broadside came in a speech on religion and law at Londons Royal Society of Arts.
He focused on the Archbishops suggestion a fortnight ago that an accommodation between sharia and British law was unavoidable.
Mr Cameron said: I think that his approach is wrong in terms of the big question in our country today how do we end state multiculturalism, enhance cohesion and build a stronger society?
I dont believe that by introducing sharia law we will make Muslims somehow feel more British, more content with life here and more happy to work for a common good. In my view the opposite is the case.
Mr Cameron said sharia law would undermine society and alienate other communities who would resent such preferential treatment.
It would provide succour to the separatists who want to isolate and divide communities from the mainstream. And it would, crucially, weaken, destabilise and demoralise those Muslims who embrace liberal values and desperately want to integrate fully in British society.
Mr Cameron said Government-sponsored multicultural policies had failed. I believe that state multiculturalism is a wrong-headed doctrine that has had disastrous results, he said.
For too long weve caved in to more extreme elements by hiding under the cloak of cultural sensitivity. For too long weve given in to the loudest voices from each community without listening to what the majority want.
He warned that concessions to sharia or other minority codes could fragment society. In Britain, all citizens are equal before the law, he said. That concept is absolutely fundamental to our democracy.
Mr Cameron shared the platform with Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who said the UK needed a serious debate on religion, race and law. In a thinly veiled reference to the Archbishop, he said those who raise controversial issues should be prepared for criticism.
Dr Williamss comments threatened a split in the Church of England. He later said he only wanted to start a debate, but did not retreat from his remarks.