THE British popular media sometimes does a great disservice to the truth. The current ‘feeding frenzy’ upon the Archbishop of Canterbury which has provoked scandalous comments and calls for his resignation or apology is a case in point.
TV discussions have been based not on what was in the lecture but on distortions of what was said.
Anyone who wants to read the lecture may find it at the following address:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/07_02_08_Islam.pdf or on the Lambeth Palace website.
But be warned that it is eight pages long and most sentences need to be read twice. It is not even remotely designed for a popular audience. Many commentators simply cannot have read it.
Dr Williams says in the lecture “My aim is only … to tease out some of the broader issues around the rights of religious groups within a secular state, with a few thoughts about what might be entailed in crafting a just and constructive relationship between Islamic law and the statutory law of the United Kingdom.” This is as close as he gets to suggesting what the mass media are telling us. The archbishop is looking for reconciliation and the resolution of some very complex issues. The gentlemen of the press are promoting simplistic, crude controversy and division.
He quotes extensively from Islamic and other scholars and asserts: “There is no single code that can be identified as ‘the’ Sharia.” In the light of this, how people can say that he is advocating the adoption of what is commonly (and incorrectly) understood by ‘Sharia’ into UK law is beyond reasonable imagination. You have to ask whether it was ignorance or malice that started this twisted and nonsensical personal assault on him. Maybe it has to do with the general paranoia about Islam extremism. Maybe they just don’t like his beard. Whatever the case, ignorance seems to be king.