Violence Against Women

Joan Smith, reacting to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement that sharia courts could rule on family issues in England, said that British women are already suffering because Islamic law. She also said: “Only someone as out of touch with modern Britain as the Archbishop of Canterbury could possibly think otherwise, or line up so willingly with the forces of reaction. Just because someone looks like an Old Testament prophet, he doesn’t have to think and speak like one as well.”

In a very eye-opening article, Smith presents several cases of violence against women in England because of religious laws. Because Smith’s argument is important to understand the reason the Archbishop of Canterbury does not speak with prophetic voice, I have reprinted an excerpt of Smith’s article as it appears in The Independent:

There are moments when public debate in Britain appears to take place in a vacuum. As the Archbishop of Canterbury gave a convincing impression yesterday of a man suffering the torments of the Inquisition, the debate was moving away from his actual observations about Islamic law, sharia, to the question of his fitness (or otherwise) to hold his office. Rowan Williams claimed that his remarks about the unavoidability of adopting some aspects of sharia in this country had been misunderstood, prompting an interesting response from his critics: the cleric was a brilliant man, they said, but his utterances were simply too opaque for hoi polloi (especially the media) to comprehend. This prompts an obvious question – if no one understands what the Archbishop is saying, how do they know how intelligent he is? – but it also diverted attention from something much more important. Williams’s clarification of his remarks seemed to suggest that he wasn’t calling for a parallel legal system for Muslims, more a recognition of something that is already happening. Yet there has been a strange reluctance to ask a real expert who has seen the way sharia operates in this country: someone like Rahni Binjie, project manager of Roshni Asian Women’s Aid in Nottingham.

I urge you to read the article in its entirety by clicking here.

After you read the article in its entirety, you will understand the meaning of Smith’s words: “Only someone as out of touch with modern Britain as the Archbishop of Canterbury could possibly think otherwise, or line up so willingly with the forces of reaction. Just because someone looks like an Old Testament prophet, he doesn’t have to think and speak like one as well.”

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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4 Responses to Violence Against Women

  1. steph says:

    >Maybe you might like to read the source – the bishop’s actual lecture – before you pass judgement. At least read some of the reviews of the situation by people who have read it. Some of the blogs on your sidebar have good assessments – Ben Myers, Doug Chaplin and then the blogs not on you sidebar but available through ‘Faith and Theology’, Connexions and in particular (the leading expert on Rowan Williams) the ‘Kai Euthus’ blog run by Mike Higton. I think the author of the above article misses the point and her attacks on the bishop’s appearance and character don’t do her any favours either.

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  2. Fubeca says:

    >This is such an important topic! I’m glad to see that people raising awareness about this issue. Here is what I just wrote on the topic… http://fube.ca/2008/02/violence_against_women_in_war.html Let me know what you think!

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  3. >Steph,I read the bishop’s lecture and several of the blogs you listed in your comment and I still believe that Williams is wrong. If people want to live in the UK they should abide by the laws of the country. If people want to live under sharia law they should live in a country that practices sharia law.Claude Mariottini

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  4. >Dear fubeca,Thank you for this information. People who want to read more about this subject will find your paper interesting.Claude Mariottini

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