Question to people who are cross with Rowan Williams
If so, why haven’t you protested about the Beth Din previously? If not, then why on earth don’t you think that Muslims should be granted the same rights you are happy to extend to Orthodox Jews?
Update – from dsquared in the comments, a summary of the ways in which the rights available to Orthodox Jews are currently not available to Muslims, and would not be available to Muslims without additional legislation:
[Sharia] arbitration services aren’t in general binding unless they’re recognised by the normal courts, meaning that they are absolutely rife with jurisdiction-shoppers who go to the sharia court in bad faith, with the intention of then going to a normal court if the judgement goes against them. You can’t do this with a Beth Din (or various other courts of arbitration) because they’re binding arbitration. At present there are Sharia Councils which do carry out arbitration, but in the absence of a specific pre-existing contract, it’s not binding.
When John Doe shows up to the court complaining about the deal he received at the Beth Din under arbitration, claiming he’s been made the victim of a capricious and arbitrary ruling, the courts will chuck it out because there’s a lot of history of the Beth Din working as a proper arbitration service. If Richard Roe shows up claiming that Sheikh Joe Bloggs has acted unfairly and arbitrarily in the Sharia Court of Bumsville, then the court will have to take this seriously because they’ve never heard of Sheikh Bloggs or his alleged “court” before.
It might seem reasonable to conclude that things would work a lot better if the British Islamic community could agree on a core of sharia principles that they could all live with, unify the Sharia Councils structure and work toward getting improved legal recognition of its work in arbitration.