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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Rowan Williams and Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady | Melanie Phillips

Rowan Williams and Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady | Melanie Phillips

Published in: Melanie's blog
You've really got to hand it to Dr Rowan Williams, the erstwhile Archbishop of Canterbury – he's got a sense of timing to die for.
Five years ago, he set off a cultural earthquake when, as head of the Anglican Communion, he made a speech in the Royal Courts of Justice in London in which he welcomed the 'inevitable' accommodation of Islamic sharia law in the UK.
At no stage, neither then nor subsequently, did he ever indicate that he regretted the intellectual fatuity and legal and theological shallowness of this suicide note for Britain's ancient culture.  Nor the deep shock felt by many that the country's principal Christian prelate was cheerfully willing on the Balkanisation of Britain and the destruction of its foundational democratic principle of 'one law for all'. Nor even that he understood this was the import of what he had said.
Now, some ten days after the barbaric murder in Woolwich, south London of Drummer Lee Rigby at the hands of Islamic fanatics quoting the Koran, Dr Williams looks set to repeat his triumph.
In what promises to be a high-profile event in the lawyers' Temple Church in London – which for some reason has taken a lead in promoting sharia in the UK – Dr Williams will today help launch a new book, Islam and English Law, published by Cambridge University Press.
According to the pre-launch blurb, the book will ask:
  • 'Is sharia law compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights?
  • Should English law give greater recognition to Islamic custom and practice?
  • Should freedom of speech be restrained to protect Muslims' sensibilities?
  • Can Muslims be full members, in good conscience and without qualification, of our pluralist society?'
and also
'…what changes, if any, to legal provision and practice will narrow division between the UK's communities, promote understanding and accommodation – and, to improve the protection offered to them all.'
Well, I suppose it's possible that the book – along with Dr Williams -- will answer that last question by saying: 'Stop sharia now'. Such an answer would certainly bring relief to the many thousands of British Muslims who want to live in freedom and security under democracy, equal human rights and 'one law for all'.
However, given that the contributors to this book are
Abdullahi An-Na'im, Mashood Baderin, Marion Boyd, Nicolas Bratza, Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Ian Edge, Khaled Abou El Fadl, David Ford, Robin Griffith-Jones, Mark Hill, Stephen Hockman, Sydney Kentridge, Christopher McCrudden, Dominic McGoldrick, Tariq Modood, Nicholas Phillips, Tariq Ramadan, Albie Sachs, Shaheen Sardar Ali, Prakash Shah and Rowan Williams,
I'd guess that the answer to the questions listed under the bullet-points above might be mostly 'yes', 'yes', 'yes' and 'yes'.
If so, then Dr Williams will doubly deserve his place in the pantheon of ridicule savaged by Douglas Murray in his dazzling new book, Islamophilia, which I am delighted to be publishing today as the latest title from my new electronic imprint, emBooks, in response to the Woolwich atrocity and its aftermath.
Islamophilia  is not about terrorism. It is not about Islam. It is not about Muslims. It is instead about those utterly ridiculous public figures -- including movie stars, literary giants, pop idols, army generals, bishops, museum curators and politicians -- in whom an epidemic loss of cultural nerve and the terror of losing their reputation in fashionable circles has made them victims of the debilitating affliction of Islamophilia. The book is laugh-out-loud funny. It is also jaw-dropping. And it is tragic.
This little firecracker fulfills my aim when I launched emBooks last month – to provide a platform for writers of talent and integrity to describe the world as it is, not as some people would like to remake it. My hope is thus to get right away from the polarisation and caricatures of so much political and cultural life, and reclaim instead the true, decent, rational centre ground of western society from those who have hijacked it.
I hope lots of people will join me.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.
Read full biography


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