Rowan Williams seems a nice guy. He is, by all accounts, very clever and very godly. These are qualities that make him eminently qualified to be the Archbishop of Canterbury.
They are not qualities needed to be a wise political operator.
His attempt to open a debate about how the Muslim Sharia law might be accommodated into the UK system of jurisprudence has resulted in damage to both the CofE and the Muslim community in the UK. That much is certain.
I watched the Bishop of Hume on BBC Questiontime last night manfully trying to explain and justify the Archbishop's remarks on Sharia. He was struggling!! Struggling big time!!
This is not altogether surprising as most of the general public associate Muslims with terrorists and Sharia law with cutting people's hands off and beheading criminals. This is clearly a distortion. Where do these ideas come from?
I know one place.
Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves. Remember it? What an exciting adventure, romance tale – starring Kevin Costner (when he was still on top of the acting tree), Morgan Freeman (before he became the mega-star he is today) and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio – when she was an up-and-coming actress.
Ok, got it?
Now, remember the contrived way Morgan Freeman was brought into the Robin Hood legend? After all, there were many black people in Sherwood Forest, surely?
Robin and his mate (Marion's brother) are stuck in a Muslim prison. Robin volunteers to have his hand cut off (for stealing – notice the nice Sharia hysteria side-plot) ) instead of the hand of his boyhood friend and fellow Crusader. Robin cleverly escapes – helped by his new-found Muslim friend, Azeem, played by Freeman. How else would you get a black man into medieval England? Even then he's described as a Moor. So was Othello – and Othello was surely black.
I contend that most of what the general population ( general here, sadly, includes most of the readers for the Daily Mail – or the Daily Fascist to give it its proper name ) know about Sharia law and indeed Muslims in general is brought to them by the popular press and the entertainment media.
When the Archbishop tries to open a debate about the relationship between various ethnic, religious and social groups in Britain, he's on a hiding to nothing.
No matter how scholarly the approach – he's going to be scimitared in the popular press.
Why? Because only the enlightened few will remember that at the time of the Crusades the Muslim World almost single-handedly kept the light of learning alive in the Western Hemisphere. When London was a hovel, Damascus was a metropolitan paradise.
Unfortunately, when the twin towers collapsed so did any chance of avoiding the rampant Islama-phobia we see today. A brave attempt by the Archbishop to engineer an enlightened debate was always destined to fail.
Might as well try to reintroduce stoning for prostitutes – and I think you'll find that in the Bible – not the Koran.
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