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    BBC coverage of Archbishop was awful


    by Sunny
    12th February, 2008 at 3:47 pm    

    This weekend, after I had read the speech by Archbishop Rowan Williams on Friday, I was positively pissed off at the BBC. So incensed that I had to stop myself chucking a shoe at the television.

    The Beeb’s coverage involved having a correspondent standing outside the Archbishop’s church claiming every five minutes that he was yet to clarify his remarks. If you wanted clarification you numbskulls then why not get someone with half a brain to go through the speech?

    To put it simply, BBC News simply joined in the witchunt. It kept repeating the claim that there were calls for ABC to be sacked but had no one on defending him. Dr Williams speech was intelligent and thoughtful. You didn’t have to agree with it all, and I didn’t. Especially the bit where he says that people who have “conscientious disagreement” when work conflicts with their faith should be allowed. I don’t necessarily buy it.

    But if you think Dr Williams was calling for Sharia law in Britain then you’re stupid. There’s no other word for it. And that you didn’t actually bother reading the speech (which I didn’t initially when posting about it). I’ve expanded more on this on Liberal Conspiracy. Anyway, this article is about BBC News.

    Only a few weeks ago the BBC’s director-general promised that news was going to be less sensationalist. And yet, this weekend there was no attempt in its mainstream coverage to tease out what ABC was getting at. There was just blanket coverage of the criticism he faced and continuous calls for “clarification”. Is the new channel run by idiots who can’t read a 4-page speech?

    I’m going to write a letter of complaint to BBC News and say its coverage was grossly biased. Who’s with me??


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    1. Tom — on 12th February, 2008 at 4:09 pm  

      I agree entirely. It’s part of a trend, relatively recent, for the BBC to appear to be competing with the Mail/Express level of newspaper coverage, without any attempt at balance. The ‘migrant babies’ story a few weeks back was another example. It’s sensationalist and, worse, anti-intellectual. In fact the BBC is becoming what the Conservative hard-right have wanted it to become since the early 1980s.

      There’s also a strong case for saying that the BBC not only joined in the witch-hunt but started it, considering the nature of the initial coverage.

    2. cjcjc — on 12th February, 2008 at 4:11 pm  

      Agree that they did mix it with the headlines “shariah inevitable” after their lunchtime interview.

      “If you wanted clarification you numbskulls then why not get someone with half a brain to go through the speech?”

      It was the ABC’s own “clarification” - ie the interview - which got it started. He’s not much good as a “public intellectual” (the grounds on which he is now being defended) if he can’t clarify complicated issues. I loved his own “unlcarity” term yesterday!

      But I think the BBC quickly went round (on balance - not entirely) to the ABC’s side.
      This supposed “analysis” on the website for example is nothing of the sort (whether you agree with it or not)!
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7239786.stm

      I’m afarid I have complained about that - but the other way to you!

      In the meantime, one C Hitchens says (soory not relevant directly to the BBC but excellent stuff):
      “In the midst of this dismal verbiage and euphemism, the plain statement—”There’s one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said” (which Williams suggested was “a bit of a danger”) — still stands out like a diamond in a dunghill. It stands out precisely because it is said simply, and because its essential grandeur is intelligible to everybody. Its principles ought to be just as intelligible and accessible to those who don’t yet speak English, in just the same way as the great Lord Mansfield once ruled that, wherever someone might have been born, and whatever he had been through, he could not be subject to slavery once he had set foot on English soil. Simple enough? For the women who are the principal prey of the sharia system, it is often only when they are shipped or flown to Britain that their true miseries begin. This modern disgrace is deepened and extended by a fatuous cleric who, presiding over an increasingly emaciated and schismatic and irrelevant church, nonetheless maintains that any faith is better than none at all.”

    3. cjcjc — on 12th February, 2008 at 4:14 pm  

      PS agree with the *general* point that the BBC has been pretty sensationalist on the news front for a little while.

      But then I believe that it signed its own death warrant (or the death warrant of the licence fee) some time ago.

    4. Random Guy — on 12th February, 2008 at 4:32 pm  

      Well if you cast your mind to the pre-Iraq war coverage by the BBC, then the ensuing clamp down by the governmenr after a series of ‘fiascos’, its pretty obvious whose corner the BBC is in these days. They have been handed and agenda that they must follow. This being one of the American-style re-organisations that NuLabour so envied about the way things are done in the States.

    5. sonia — on 12th February, 2008 at 4:44 pm  

      Yes the poor man, i do feel sorry for him, i dont think he should get the sack. He made some vague statements which really could mean anything, seem to have been meant in an inter-faith wussy pussy kind of way.

    6. Don — on 12th February, 2008 at 4:47 pm  

      I agree. OK, reading the speech was a chore but it was quickly apparent that he was not particularly talking about sharia per se, but laying the groundwork for probably inevitable disestablishment.

      His clarification mad that (almost) clear when he spoke of,

      ‘…the underlying principle that Christians cannot claim exceptions from a secular unitary system on religious grounds (for instance in situations where Christian doctors might not be compelled to perform abortions), if they are not willing to consider how a unitary system can accommodate other religious consciences.’

      For ‘secular unitary system’, read ‘law’.

      If the CofE can no longer expect to be uniquely privileged in law, then let all religions be so privileged. Or none.

      I vote for ‘none’.

      BTW, the Newsnight coverage was dreadful.

    7. cjcjc — on 12th February, 2008 at 4:50 pm  

      “He made some vague statements which really could mean anything, seem to have been meant in an inter-faith wussy pussy kind of way.”

      Some mistake surely?
      He is a “leading thinker” you know!

    8. Don — on 12th February, 2008 at 4:57 pm  

      sonia,

      I think you are being too kind to His Grace. They were vaguely phrased but with a clear intent behind them.

      When an organisation which has accumulated and retained wealth and power through centuries of bloody oppression and unprincipled machinations presents as its face a kindly, twinkly old gentleman, I’m wary as hell.

      I’m not for a moment saying that behind that vague, benevolent facade lurks the baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells, but his job is to promote the interests of the church, which he believes (we must assume) to be the conduit for the will of god.

    9. Refresh — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:07 pm  

      That is mighty generous of you:

      ‘Yes the poor man, i do feel sorry for him, i dont think he should get the sack.’

      When the real victims of the thinly veiled racism that poured out of orifices we didn’t know existed, were muslims.

    10. soru — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:09 pm  

      But if you think Dr Williams was calling for Sharia law in Britain then you’re stupid

      Enoch Powell wasn’t calling for literal rivers of blood either.

      If a politician can’t anticipate the obvious and predictable consequences of using inflammatory language like ‘shariah’ and ‘inevitable’, they have no business in the job.

    11. Don — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:16 pm  

      Refresh,

      True enough, the bishop is back in favour (or will be soon), but the focus of tabloid hysteria is once again pointing …guess where?

      Unintended consequence, or a subtle mind aware of every nuance?

      The head of the established church and, we are told, a formidable intellectual drops the words ‘sharia’ and ‘inevitable’ on the public in a document which is only comprehensible with considerable time and effort and then claims to be bewildered by the initial reaction? Maybe he is that out of touch and unadvised, maybe not.

    12. Don — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:17 pm  

      soru,

      snap.

    13. Sunny — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:18 pm  

      If a politician can’t anticipate the obvious and predictable consequences of using inflammatory language like ’shariah’ and ‘inevitable’, they have no business in the job.

      I’m not sure what exactly is so inflammatory about saying that sharia exists in Britain because the law allows it, and we should look at the dangers when women are discriminated against within that framework.

      He mentioned forced marriages 3 times in that speech! Anyone who accuses him of being oblivious to what is conjured up when ‘sharia’ is also mentioned also hasn’t read the speech.

      I’m going to write up the letter tonight and publish it. Feel free to replicate it on your own blogs or write your own!

    14. sonia — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:24 pm  

      Don, absolutely you’re right. yes i do realize i am being too kind, i can’t help it really, he looks so fluffy and benign. I do still think that an intelligent man like him would have known/should have known the kinds of responses he’d get - (nothing to do with the Islam angle) but rather wider concerns about religion and authority. the bit about ‘one law for all is a bit dangerous’ - plenty of implications there.

      ( ha refresh, not generous at all)

    15. sonia — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:29 pm  

      refresh, yes it could be interpreted that referring to ‘muslims’ as one monolithic bunch is racist. ( They want Sharia. Do “they”? Who are “they”? Do “they” all have one will? )

    16. Sofi — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:29 pm  

      Totally totally agree.

    17. Ms_Xtreme — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:30 pm  

      Gwan then Sunny. I agree with your position there. Freedom of Speech is one of the main reasons why we’re all here and not in another country.

    18. Refresh — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:36 pm  

      I am not critical of the Archbishop. I believe he is a very intelligent man.

      I think we should be thanking him for having the courage to actually point out some truths; he has now given us the instrument with which to lance the boil of bigotry that now so plagues the country.

      I can persuade myself to see it as a counter to ideology bullshit speeches of Blair.

      This could prove to be leadership at its finest. Time will tell.

    19. Don — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:43 pm  

      ‘… the instrument with which to lance the boil of bigotry that now so plagues the country.’

      Apart from ‘Yeuch, it’s nearly tea-time, did you have to go for the lancing the boil imagery?’, I’m going to have to ask you to unpack that one.

      What instrument?

    20. sonia — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:52 pm  

      yeah pray do tell

    21. Boyo — on 12th February, 2008 at 5:55 pm  

      Yes I agree this was more about shoring up the pernicious influence of religion (faith school segregation for eg) in the UK than cheerleading for sharia, although I wonder if the CofE vis Islam is trying to adopt the same tactics as the SWP with respect to Islamism… and one can only predict the same result.

    22. soru — on 12th February, 2008 at 6:15 pm  

      I’m not sure what exactly is so inflammatory about saying that sharia exists in Britain because the law allows it, and we should look at the dangers when women are discriminated against within that framework.

      If Powell had talked about ‘a medium term risk of civil disturbances’, instead of ‘rivers of blood’, would you regard it as the same speech?

      You and I both happen to know that sharia, in one usage of the word, exists anywhere a Muslim chooses not to drink a beer. Most people use the word differently.

      If Williams had replaced the word ‘shariah’ with ‘aspects of the civil law from the Islamic tradition covering religion, marriage and divorce’, and ‘inevitable’ with ‘personally, I think it is an idea with potential worth investigating further’, then the impact of his speech would have been very different.

      You can’t go round using sensationalist language and then expect the 24-hour media, having picked up your story because of its intemperate language, to then do the job of rewriting what you said into something more nuanced.

    23. Spurius — on 12th February, 2008 at 6:33 pm  

      I think the BBC did a reasonably good job in this case. Their website is excellent giving input from all angles and useful background which looks fairly objective.

      As soon as the news broke I got a copy of the AoC’s interview and speech. He didn’t say Sharia was unavoidable, he simply agreed with the statement that the interviewer put to him. But, of course, this means he must believe it even if on this occasion he didn’t “say” it.

      I think for this and his statement that one law for everyone is “a bit of a danger” he deserved everything that fell on his head.

      I tried reading the speech but found it unbelievably tedious. Anyone who writes sentences that long deserves to be misunderstood.

      We now see from his speech to the Synod that he was suggesting the law should allow more exceptions on the basis of religious beliefs. I think that would be wrong especially for Islam, for two reasons (1) in this country it will further emphasize Muslim separatism, and (2) we should not be making gestures in the direction of Islam as long as so many Muslims continue to believe in: the subordination of other religions; death for apostasy and insults to Islam; and the subordination of women and their lack of equality before the law.

      I know (I really do) that not all Muslims believe and practice the same things, but that is a weak excuse. What about that leading light of the MCB “offering” Sharia to the UK on that Channel 4 programme the other week. Though he wouldn’t insist on it here (thankfully), he really thinks stoning for adultery and hand amputation are a good idea. How can you deal with people like that?

    24. Don — on 12th February, 2008 at 6:34 pm  

      Sunny,

      ‘I’m not sure what exactly is so inflammatory about saying that sharia exists in Britain because the law allows it, and we should look at the dangers when women are discriminated against within that framework.’

      I didn’t read it that way. I read it as ‘Although sharia presents dangers to women (and others) we should nevertheless privilege it in law, as a faith position. And hope it will play nice.’

      Note that the ‘secular unitary system’ is expected to accommodate only religious consciences. So if your secular ethics put you contra the law of the land, tough. You ain’t in the club.

      The law forbids discrmination against homosexuals. So you can challenge that if your religion says so, but not if you are a common or garden homophobic bigot?

    25. Refresh — on 12th February, 2008 at 7:12 pm  

      The instrument is courage!

      Dr Rowan Williams asks the country to look at itself.

      The response is beyond comprehension - the vilification of Dr Williams himself. For what?

      Perhaps finally we get a true picture of what Britain has become over the last few years. A learned population which has mastered only the language and nuances of the tabloids, respects only the masters of soundbites and celebrity.

      The debate so far, has gone beyond the challenges of religion in a secular world - Dr William’s starting point. The last few days has shown us that we are on the brink of a calamity. Where nothing is sacred, not even learning itself. This does not bode well for a progressive nation with an internationalist outlook.

      As for the media’s handling of it - it surely has to be the peak of hostility where they would happily chew and spit out the one man of the establishment who is supposedly beyond politics.

      The hostility in Dr Rowan’s case wasn’t personal, as he was not the intended target. The target is clear and it has been for a number of years. From stories of inbreeding, refusal to handle bible story books at M&S checkout to demands for sharia. All myths and distortions, based on lies and double-meanings.

      The starting point for Blair was the deep resentment in the country for his deceit over the Iraq war. For him to counter this he needed to create divisions in the country at large, such that it became a question of ideologies. Us and them. Them before us. Over here and over there. Willing hounds were an emasculated BBC and the Daily Mail, Express, Telegraph, Times etc.

      Dr Williams’ contribution is the starting gun to counter the deeply divisive discourse of the past half decade. Perhaps when the acrid stench of hypocrisy has cleared we will realise that we have to learn to understand what we are talking about, and that the vast majority of us were all aiming for the same goals.

      I now fully anticipate Gordon Brown to take the Archbishop’s lead to backfill Blair’s handiwork.

    26. marvin — on 12th February, 2008 at 7:56 pm  

      I thought the coverage was awful too. I think Butterflies and Wheels had it covered with their links & captions

      How stupid of people to encourage sharia, even ‘harmless’ bits, such as divorce and inheritance (both sexist rulings), when the only people calling for Sharia don’t want there to be areas of no-sharia! And MOST muslims do not want sharia anyway.

      Those very people who think it’s ok, or think it’s harmless having Muslim courts in the UK seem to be the very same people who bash the Bible-belt in America for their strict faith-based ways, for being stupid and niave.

      Why are people so scared to say Sharia is a bad thing? Will they be labelled as racist? I think so. Unless of course you are Muslim or ex-Muslim. Bit difficult to call them racist, I suppose.

      Idiots like Williams make me into a militant atheist. Ban all religions! Freaking idiots. 700 years of fine tuning the laws in this country, and people are talking about replacing parts of it with rulings based on mythical teachings, in 2008?!! I despair!

      And, as I said, and a few others, all arch idiot has done has inflame opinion AGAINST muslims. Daily Mail, Express having a field day! (Well, week). Certainly this will have enraged some voters to think BNP.

      Politically, only the right can gain from this whole silly debate.

      All in all, a very BAD week for religion.

    27. Don — on 12th February, 2008 at 8:40 pm  

      Courage? Archbishops and bishops have, by the nature of their position, been expected to put up with being hacked down in front of their own altars, beheaded, burned, drawn and quartered or subject to other such horrible ingenuities. He sits out a two day hissy fit by a gutter press he so clearly (and rightly) despises.

      ‘Perhaps finally we get a true picture of what Britain has become over the last few years. A learned population which has mastered only the language and nuances of the tabloids, respects only the masters of soundbites and celebrity.’

      I can’t disagree with the overall picure you paint. Yes, it was a pretty vile display from much of the media. I don’t know if that is a recent change in the country or a recent change in the way technology has accentuated that factor. The ‘I don’t want considered. I want now’ approach to informing the populace. Very ugly.

      ‘the challenges of religion in a secular world ‘

      A secular world? Where? I’ll relocate. We do not have a secular world, we have a world in which secularism has made some inroads in some places, which are being constantly eroded. Even considering only the UK, we are not remotely secular.

      ‘Where nothing is sacred, not even learning itself.’

      Nothing should be sacred, learning in particular. I think erudition should be respected, and I deplore the anti-intellectualism you rightly point out.

      ‘…supposedly beyond politics.’ But Dr Williams is a political figure, a significant one, who made a political move. I’m sure he at least considered the consequences.

      ‘ From stories of inbreeding, refusal to handle bible story books at M&S checkout to demands for sharia. All myths and distortions, based on lies and double-meanings.’

      Refresh, you know that I agree that anomalies and trivia have been pushed onto the front page to feed tribalism. There are buttons you can push to get a tribal response. Thanks to technology, that response is increasingly dominant in the media. His Grace pushed one.

      ‘ the vast majority of us were all aiming for the same goals.’

      Amen to that.

    28. Dave Cole — on 12th February, 2008 at 9:24 pm  

      I agree with you. For one thing, they kept repeating that Dr Williams had called sharia ‘inevitable’ in the UK, which is rather different to his belief that it was necessary to make accommodations towards sharia for good community relations.

      My biggest problem with the reporting was that it did nothing to challenge a lot of the, ahem, creative interpretations of the Archbishop’s speech. An hour long show explaining it would have been useful…

      Insert joke about Biased BBC here.

    29. Refresh — on 12th February, 2008 at 9:49 pm  

      Don,

      ‘His Grace pushed one.’

      And all the pus came gushing out.

      ‘Courage?’

      Yes courage, to deal with the pus. Its out.

      ‘I don’t know if that is a recent change in the country or a recent change in the way technology has accentuated that factor.’

      I do hope you are wrong, and that its not inherited or latent attitudes.

      ‘A secular world? Where? I’ll relocate.’

      Perhaps I’ve been reading too many blogs.

      ‘Nothing should be sacred, learning in particular.’

      Sacred was a provocative choice. But the process of learning is essential, and should be paramount. Not the cynical mastery that makes for the doctorate and polemics.

      Learning as in acquiring of knowledge and wisdom.

      ‘But Dr Williams is a political figure, a significant one, who made a political move.’

      With hindsight of only a few days - I can say he was wise. A more politic man would have kept well out of it.

      I feel pretty sure at the back of his mind he must also have been thinking about Edmund Burke and good men.

      As for technology feeding tribalism - yes I agree, its accelerating previously seeded prejudices.

    30. cjcjc — on 13th February, 2008 at 8:11 am  

      “From stories of inbreeding, refusal to handle bible story books at M&S checkout to demands for sharia. All myths and distortions, based on lies and double-meanings.”

      PP has dealt well with the “Muslim” inbreeding story - though would you have preferred a reference to country of origin rather than religion?
      Or should the story not have been written at all?
      Alas, the opinion polling suggests a sizeable minority would “like to see” Shariah - though that may be different from “demanding” it.
      Was the M&S story wrong? (I didn’t see that one!)
      Was the Sainsburys (refused to sell alcohol) story wrong?
      Are the stories of female medical students refusing to roll up their sleeves to disinfect wrong?
      Of doctors reluctant to treat STD’s?

    31. Refresh — on 13th February, 2008 at 9:11 am  

      cjcjc

      Don’t let it fester. Better out than in.

    32. Arif — on 13th February, 2008 at 9:29 am  

      Personally, I don’t think you have to be religious to have a conscience or rules they want to live by. I also think that people should not be expected to turn of their consciences when interacting with other people in society.

      We have to negotiate with each other to work out ways to live together (including working together). I do understand that when an issue of conscience is involved, other people can feel judged and sometimes get defensive - even self-righteous in opposition. But they don’t have to do so.

      I have had jobs where my managers have adapted to my conscience as someone who did not wish to support vivisection and as someone opposed to promoting the arms trade. They did not agree with my conscience on any of these things, and it did not bring down the system for them to adapt my work to these boundaries. They could have insisted it was part of my job to do things I did not like, and I had to be prepared to resign if they wanted to be inflexible. But luckily they thought it was worth keeping me on despite my inability to do part of the job I was ostensibly paid to do.

      In my turn I was appreciative of their efforts rather than judgmental of their refusal to share my conscience or practices. That seemed to work. But then, this was before 9/11 changed the atmosphere and made people so scared of Muslim people’s consciences.

      I don’t want society to go down the route where I would be expected to litigate to get my “rights of conscience”, nor would I like society to go down the route of setting out complete conformity of conscience as a condition of employment or participation in public life. We just need to accept people have different ways and respect them as best we can, so that we are respected back. If we don’t the alternative is just a battle of wills which will probably only be resolved by one side imposing its will on a now alienated weaker side.

    33. Bakunin — on 13th February, 2008 at 10:09 am  

      We just need to accept people have different ways and respect them as best we can, so that we are respected back.

      Respect is one thing, implementing Shariah Law is another.

    34. fugstar — on 13th February, 2008 at 10:35 am  

      PP ‘coverage’ was worse

    35. cjcjc — on 13th February, 2008 at 11:56 am  

      Refresh - were the stories “lies” or not?
      Just asking.

    36. sonia — on 13th February, 2008 at 12:11 pm  

      well said Don in no. 27, superbly put

    37. Shuggy — on 13th February, 2008 at 12:29 pm  

      “It was the ABC’s own “clarification” - ie the interview - which got it started.”

      Exactly. I didn’t see the BBC coverage but I’m getting a little tired of Bish’s defenders going on about how people should engage with the speech. I’m also a little tired of people going on about how intelligent he is. I read the speech too. It’s the standard Williams’ technique of dressing up essentially reactionary ideas in dense academic language (‘nuance’ I think is the favoured term) so that liberals will go on about how reasonable and moderate he is. I suppose he’s pretty clever because much to my dismay, he’s got away with it - until now. He seems not even to be able to understand what his job is, which is surely a considerable intellectual failing?

      More generally I wish people would stop using an apparent inablility or unwillingness to express ideas in clear langauge as a sign of intelligence.

    38. Sid — on 13th February, 2008 at 1:20 pm  

      His grace’s language is the only thing I really liked about his speech(es). His ideas are the only thing I really hated about his speech(es).

    39. Refresh — on 13th February, 2008 at 1:40 pm  

      Sid, Sonia - What of the media coverage?

      Was it vile? Did it represent you and the general public?

    40. Derius — on 13th February, 2008 at 1:54 pm  

      I decided to withold judgement on the Archbishop, as I hadn’t read his speech, and therefore didn’t know what he had actually said.

      I have decided to still withold judgement on the Archbishop, as I have now read his speech, and don’t understand what he is actually saying.

    41. bananabrain — on 13th February, 2008 at 3:02 pm  

      I don’t want society to go down the route where I would be expected to litigate to get my “rights of conscience”, nor would I like society to go down the route of setting out complete conformity of conscience as a condition of employment or participation in public life. We just need to accept people have different ways and respect them as best we can, so that we are respected back.

      arif, i agree with you. the only problem is that i’ve rarely met a proponent of shariah who had real respect for *anything* unislamic. the question was always the degree to which they managed to conceal their distaste and contempt. that just isn’t respect. it’s not much different from the anti-religionists who can barely hide *their* distaste and contempt, with the important proviso that there are much less of them compared to the people that can appreciate alternative forms of wisdom.

      Exactly. I didn’t see the BBC coverage but I’m getting a little tired of Bish’s defenders going on about how people should engage with the speech.

      i would certainly criticise his lack of clarity but i hardly see how a lack of familiarity with what he *actually* said qualifies one to pass judgment on it. i read it all and my opinion is that he wasn’t saying anything you wouldn’t expect him to have said, but he said it in such a roundabout way as to deserve a thorough kicking by people who were determined to hear something completely different. he ought to know better.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    42. Shuggy — on 13th February, 2008 at 3:11 pm  

      i would certainly criticise his lack of clarity but i hardly see how a lack of familiarity with what he *actually* said qualifies one to pass judgment on it.

      You’re missing the point. Why complain about people not reading the speech when it is the archbishop himself who summarised it on Radio 4? Either it was a fair summary of his views, in which case people are entitled to criticise them without recourse to the longer speech. Or it isn’t a fair summary, in which case the archbishop can hardly complain about people misunderstanding him if he himself is unable to summarise what he actually said in plain English.

    43. sonia — on 13th February, 2008 at 3:49 pm  

      dunno and don’t care. media coverage is never representative of anything, i usually don’t bother with it. the {mainstream} media is always sensationalist and simplistic i thought everyone knew that already. i dont know what the general public think, I am not the general public, i only know what i think and i think i went on about that on the other thread.

      besides this whole business of respecting ‘the Other’ or not doing so, is ridiculous because it implies something is ‘the Other’ in the first place. not something i subscribe to. my concerns about this business arose directly from my longstanding concerns( shall we say since i was about 8 years old and worked out roughly i was muslim and female) which have been about the difficulties and realities of understanding “God’s word” and translating it into law - and i thought about this a lot whilst i lived in majority muslim countries - so i fail to see why i should feel differently now - just because im not in a muslim majority country anymore - and have to worry about other people’s us/them tension. Most people are fueling the media angle anyway by going on about ‘oh we must respect them as if them is not us.

    44. sonia — on 13th February, 2008 at 4:12 pm  

      but, to be brutally honest, i have always ( or since i was 8) had a very visceral reaction to the word ‘sharia’ that much i will definitely admit, growing up in muslim countries being classed as a muslim female often has that reaction, but anyway it definitely did it for me, so possibly it the newspapers “shared” my kneejerk reaction to the word sharia, who knows what their reasons for that are, i know what mine are.

    45. sonia — on 13th February, 2008 at 4:12 pm  

      god knows what that smiley face is doing there, i wrote..or since i was 8.

    46. Refresh — on 13th February, 2008 at 4:13 pm  

      ‘dunno and don’t care’

      Really? You really don’t have a view? Should we have the same attitude to your concerns?

    47. cjcjc — on 13th February, 2008 at 4:21 pm  

      This is how Chaucer would have covered it (bit too long but still quite funny):

      http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2008/02/heere-bigynneth.html

    48. sonia — on 13th February, 2008 at 5:46 pm  

      i explained why i “dont care” refresh, it is obvious the media is sensationalist, i thought everybody knew that. and no i dont care that much about what the mainstream media says, sorry if that hurts your feelings. and frankly, i think most people are not at all bothered about my, or an individual’s concerns, yes, this whole thing stinks of competing community agendas and who’s behind who. but that’s their loss.

    49. sonia — on 13th February, 2008 at 5:48 pm  

      And you - as Muslim patriarch no. 1 - clearly do not give a toss about my views.

    50. Refresh — on 13th February, 2008 at 5:57 pm  

      Sonia,

      What is the difference between this

      ‘And you - as Muslim patriarch no. 1 - clearly do not give a toss about my views.’

      and this

      ‘And you clearly do not give a toss about my views.’

      What exactly are you trying to say? That I couldn’t possibly ‘give a toss’ about your views because I am ‘muslim patriarch no. 1′?

    51. Refresh — on 13th February, 2008 at 6:01 pm  

      Sonia

      ‘i explained why i “dont care” refresh, it is obvious the media is sensationalist, i thought everybody knew that.’

      It wouldn’t be such an issue if it was all academic. But it is not. There are consequences to a sensationalist media. Some of us would say its gone way past sensationalist. It verges on incitement.

    52. Sunny — on 13th February, 2008 at 6:15 pm  

      Well, it doesn’t verge on incitement, but I do think the mainstream media still matters. It might eat itself into oblivion eventually but not right now.

    53. Refresh — on 13th February, 2008 at 6:30 pm  

      ‘Well, it doesn’t verge on incitement’

      depends where you sit.

    54. marvin — on 13th February, 2008 at 6:54 pm  

      Incitement? The Archbishops comments have excited a number of extremist organisations hell-bent on implementing Sharia in the UK. I wouldn’t call it incitement though.

      There’s a lot of hysterical sensationalism on blogs too. Just try reading any comments from Refresh :)

      Knee-jerk is an appropriate way to describe the more relativists on the left who instantly denounce anybody who says a bad thing about Sharia, or who as the audacity to point out that even ‘trivial’ things such as rulings on divorce and inheritance fester inequality between sexes (and would no doubt be overturned anyway by the European court on human rights).

      And attacking the BBC for it’s right wing stance? Hilarious! Try comparing the BBC material with any other news organisation on this issue. They have gone out of their way to be sensitive and pick up the “positive” views on Sharia law. The only other organisation to have articles as or more favourable to sharia courts in UK is the Guardian as far as I’m aware.

    55. Avi Cohen — on 13th February, 2008 at 6:55 pm  

      Worth Reading:

      http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/31000

    56. Refresh — on 13th February, 2008 at 7:03 pm  

      ‘Just try reading any comments from Refresh’

      Don’t just try, read them.

    57. sonia — on 13th February, 2008 at 7:11 pm  

      actually i should apologise for that comment Refresh, it wasn’t called for at all, sorry.

    58. Refresh — on 13th February, 2008 at 7:17 pm  

      Apology accepted.

      To be honest I mustn’t have thought too highly of you after that comment, because I saw it as an attempt to draw in the likes of Marvin. Sadly that is how things are at the moment.

    59. Sunny — on 13th February, 2008 at 7:30 pm  

      The Archbishops comments have excited a number of extremist organisations hell-bent on implementing Sharia in the UK.

      Oh yeah Marvin? Why don’t you tell us which ones these are? It would be helpful also to tell us how influential you think they are and why. I must have missed this bit.

    60. marvin — on 13th February, 2008 at 7:37 pm  

      I don’t think they’re particularly influential at all. Most Muslims are against Sharia in the UK. Which makes the Bishops comments even more baffling.

      Ironic, but not such a surprise the ‘progressives’ rushing to defend both sharia and the Bishops “inevitable” comments.

    61. Shelina Zahra — on 13th February, 2008 at 11:02 pm  

      The reporting right from the start across the board was completely flawed. It wasn’t an easy speech to follow, but then it was aimed at a roomful of lawyers and high-brow intellectuals, not tabloid journalists, so we should have been expecting something complex and subtle. I was so incensed at the inability of BBC journalists to read the speech that I actually posted a summary of it on my blog (check spirit21.co.uk for anyone who is still in the dark).

      My big worry at the moment is that any time anyone mentions a Muslim-sounding word, the media erupts with hysteria. We’re losing the art of conversation…

    62. Sunny — on 13th February, 2008 at 11:16 pm  

      I don’t think they’re particularly influential at all. Most Muslims are against Sharia in the UK. Which makes the Bishops comments even more baffling.

      Who’s “they” marvin? You were confidently going to tell us about all these organisations that were itching to spread sharia all over Britain. Now you’re saying that most Muslims don’t even want it. Sounds like backtracking to me. C’mon, lets hear about these organisations then. Or are you going to admit you have no idea what you’re on about?

      Shelina - agreed. I think its worth complaining about this because there seems to be some unease within BBC quarters about it too. I want to see that damn news editor apologise.

    63. Spurius — on 14th February, 2008 at 6:38 am  

      Why is there all this concern with the AoC’s speech and who read it and who didn’t read it?

      What he said in his interview, which I take to be an accurate revelation of what he believes, was enough to cause the public outcry.

      He said he agreed with the statement put to him that Sharia was unavoidable IF we want social cohesion in this country.

      Millions of people do not agree with that. In my opinion the vast majority. And he is the top man in the CoE saying that sort of thing!

      He then went on to float a equally controversial belief that one law for everyone is a bit of a danger.

      He got every thing he deserved, and it its rough and ready way, the media got the story and the public reaction right.

      IMO it is really rather arrogant to think he should be judged only on what he said in that windbag of a speech.

    64. cjcjc — on 14th February, 2008 at 9:25 am  

      “I want to see that damn news editor apologise.”

      Have you written your letter yet?

      In my experience they never apologise - except in the “we’re sorry if you feel like that” kind of way.

      Though IMO this case is simply typical of the BBC’s new style of coverage; I think they were also “backtracking” somewhat and more supportive as the story grew.

    65. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 12:33 pm  

      What is really, really disappointing about this fracas is the quite blatant attempt to stop someone from expressing a peaceful view, or more accurately, to punish him for expressing it. The agenda setting by 24 hour rolling news and the red tops is quite disheartening. It is not so much MSM eating itself as MSM feeding itself. By which I mean if Williams had to retire, due to stress say, there are elements of the media that would see that, too, as a worthwhile banner headline also worthy of massive commentary.

      Whilst many people on here might come to a different conclusion, it seems to me that when this is all over, it will be remembered, if at all, for the sensationalist headlines, and certainly not for anything else.

      I hope you do manage to extract an apology - for the ABC - Sunny.

    66. sonia — on 14th February, 2008 at 12:48 pm  

      no Refresh, i wasn’t trying to draw anyone else in, it was just another knee jerk response, i felt like calling someone a Muslim Patriarch no. 1 and i happened to stumble across You. Again, it was completely uncalled for- which of course i realised as soon as i’d typed that in (yes i am impulsive, i know i need to work on that) no reason why you ( or any other person) should take the brunt of my neuroses - so that was why i apologized. It’s very graceful of you to accept,

    67. Sid — on 14th February, 2008 at 12:53 pm  

      graceful? you mean gracious surely?
      unless Refresh is also statuesque and curvaceous as well.

    68. sonia — on 14th February, 2008 at 1:10 pm  

      heh heh sid. both would have done, i guess.

    69. Sofia — on 14th February, 2008 at 1:29 pm  

      ” don’t think they’re particularly influential at all. Most Muslims are against Sharia in the UK. Which makes the Bishops comments even more baffling.”

      Marvin you need a crash course in what shariah is…maybe then you might begin to make sense

    70. Sunny — on 14th February, 2008 at 1:36 pm  

      He said he agreed with the statement put to him that Sharia was unavoidable IF we want social cohesion in this country.

      Millions of people do not agree with that. In my opinion the vast majority. And he is the top man in the CoE saying that sort of thing!

      It doesn’t matter what you want, the fact is that sharia can already exist in this country and does exist in this country, in some shape or form. This has already been explained plenty of times above. It is inevitable if you want a law of the land that applies equally to everyone, and allows civil arbitration over issues like marriage and divorce.

    71. marvin — on 14th February, 2008 at 1:46 pm  

      Progressives for sharia! ra ra ra!

      Sofia perhaps you could explain the joys of sharia then. And while your at it, could you explain to me why it’s a good thing.

    72. marvin — on 14th February, 2008 at 1:56 pm  

      I would like to know how sharia civil courts will benefit Muslims when most DO NOT want it? And why are progressives supporting civil courts based on a conservative abrahamic religion? Will they be supporting Christians implementing the 10 commandments in civil courts too? What about jedis?

    73. Sofia — on 14th February, 2008 at 2:02 pm  

      ok marvin…here are just a few to start off with…
      it means i have the right to a religious marriage not some meaningless drivel in a registry office
      It means I have the right to a mehr (go look that up)
      It means I have the right to negotiate marital responsibilities and indeed tell my spouse what I expect financially, emotionally from him and vice versa..

      It does give me the right to divorce, for as small a reason as me not liking my husband..and no…automatic custody does not go to the man.

      If you want to hold saudi arabia as the bastion of justice then be my guest, but don’t tell me you know anything about shariah because you don’t.

    74. Sofia — on 14th February, 2008 at 2:02 pm  

      when most DO NOT want it?

      oh yeh cuz you carried out a mori poll didn’t you

    75. cjcjc — on 14th February, 2008 at 2:08 pm  
    76. marvin — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:04 pm  

      OK thanks Sofia. Those things may be desirable for you personally, but I do not believe it would benefit all Muslims.

      I personally would ban religion. But that ain’t gonna happen! And I don’t think it would benefit all people.

      The fact is Sharia court will not be tolerated - not whilst thousands of Muslims are plotting terrorist attacks in the UK. 7/7 happened, and numerous attempts since, in the name of Islam.

      Once these hardcore minority of Muslims stop trying to massacre UK citizens, people will warm up to civil sharia courts, perhaps.

    77. Sunny — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:04 pm  

      Marvin - you haven’t answered my earlier question. You seem rather selective in your comments.

      To repeat, in case you missed it the first time: Who’s “they” marvin? You were confidently going to tell us about all these organisations that were itching to spread sharia all over Britain. Now you’re saying that most Muslims don’t even want it. Sounds like backtracking to me. C’mon, lets hear about these organisations then. Or are you going to admit you have no idea what you’re on about?

      Secondly, who said I was for sharia? It’s like saying you’re for everyone becoming homosexual just because one says it is a part of society.

    78. marvin — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:06 pm  

      Sofia, do you absolutley reject the harsh punishments in Sharia you seen in the middle east? Or do you think they are sometimes justified?

    79. marvin — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:09 pm  

      Sunny, not backtracking at all dear. Organisations? MCB, MAB, Hizb hut Tahir, Al-Majoroon, etc etc. They want sharia in uk. Do you disagree???

      Sunny, are you for or against Sharia civil courts?! Or are you just angry at the BBC?

    80. fugstar — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:16 pm  

      folks, its getting stupider and stupider. no one is talking about penal systems in the uk. sharia operates between muslims, when they eat, earn and pray, wherever they are. shariaphobia is rife probably because its not zen.

    81. sonia — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:25 pm  

      a crash course in “Sharia” - it isn’t simple is it, one would have to study the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, and then one would have to study the ( presumably if we’re sticking to Sunni) the 4 schools and their rulings. And of course in the end, a ruling on a specific case would be upto the specific Judge/s.

      But i daresay a crash course could involve looking up answers on places like Sunnipath, IslamOnline etc.

      But to come back to the really interesting thing - we all have different views of what it means for us, , which i think is the root of the disagreement between so many people.

      Because of the complexity, its clearly hard to say ‘well so and so is right and so and so is wrong’ when we’re not a bunch of fiqh experts. And law - of any kind - has always been tortuous.

      Still, its interesting to look at the assumptions we hold or don’t hold. For example, I always thought ( and assumed everyone else thought so too!) that a registry office marriage and a civil divorce (anywhere in the world) applied islamically, because the key ingredients required - from an Islamic perspective - were present in the civil procedures. Now actually this turns out to not a universally held position - and I think that they reflect different attitudes to Islam, including differing attitudes to the importance of ritual, over intention.

      when i got married, i didn’t have an ‘islamic’ nikah, i didnt have that till i went to bangladesh, and [as far] as i understood, it was more from a ritualistic, cultural significance for my family. they seemed to be happy with the fact that registry office marriage in the UK was ‘halal’ if you get my drift, and i’d just assumed at the time this was the norm. But clearly different people have different understanding.

      so different people will have a different reaction - based on what they think is being talked about!

    82. bananabrain — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:26 pm  

      Why complain about people not reading the speech when it is the archbishop himself who summarised it on Radio 4? Either it was a fair summary of his views, in which case people are entitled to criticise them without recourse to the longer speech.

      my point is more that people seem to be summarising the content of the summary without having read it *or* the speech.

      the archbishop can hardly complain about people misunderstanding him if he himself is unable to summarise what he actually said in plain English.

      now here i think we probably agree.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    83. Sofia — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:33 pm  

      OK thanks Sofia. Those things may be desirable for you personally, but I do not believe it would benefit all Muslims.

      I didn’t say that..you’re the one that is generalising..i was just talking about myself and my choice and how shariah affects me…

    84. Sofia — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:34 pm  

      Once these hardcore minority of Muslims stop trying to massacre UK citizens, people will warm up to civil sharia courts, perhaps

      you really do talk bollocks

    85. Sid — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:35 pm  

      silly billy fugstar. no one’s saying it should not exist informally and dictate religious practice. But that’s a paradigm shift from having it built into civil penal law, and thereby override elements of civil law. That would be
      1) creating preferential levels of legal coverage
      2) A recipe for more social schism between muslims and every one else, thereby muslims becoming more of the “other” than they already are. Not to mention create a divide between sharia-muslims and non-sharia muslims, causing even more civil strife.
      3) formalise a system whereby muslims should pay deference to indisputable laws for hereditary and punishment which not even other muslim countries are willing to do, and rightly so
      4) would be wholly unsecular and therefore undesirable for the large majority of muslims who benefit from broad, well considered and pluralist British law.

    86. Sofia — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:36 pm  

      Sofia, do you absolutley reject the harsh punishments in Sharia you seen in the middle east? Or do you think they are sometimes justified?

      so now you’re asking me if i’m against the death penalty? (for example)…again…you seem to favour a truncated, bastardised version of a series of laws that you now want me to dissect and give an answer to?

    87. marvin — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:48 pm  

      Sofia, do you reject sharia punsihments- which are directly atributed to sayings of prophet mohammed? Chopping hands and feet off, death sentence for apostasy, are all derived from Quranic verses. Do you deny this?

      If you want your marriage laws to come from sharia then do you want the rest of sharia, yes or no???

    88. Sid — on 14th February, 2008 at 3:51 pm  

      just say no

    89. Sofia — on 14th February, 2008 at 4:04 pm  

      oh my god you are so funny…you ask the stupidest questions which have no thought for environment, whether the state is muslim or not, who these laws would be for, who they would be interpreted by blah blah blah…so i will not answer your rather pathetic black and white question because it is not as simple as yes/no

    90. sonia — on 14th February, 2008 at 4:21 pm  

      well said sid ( 85)

    91. Sid — on 14th February, 2008 at 4:38 pm  

      When people are granted citizenship to the UK, they have to pledge an oath of loyalty to the Queen by placing their right hand on a copy of the Bible. What I would like to see bring in their own holy book (or none or the complete works of Shakespeare, or in my case, Nikolaus Pevsner) to place their right hand on before they pledge allegiance to Her Majesty. That’s the upper limit for religion in secular law and citizenry as far as I’m concerned. Any more than that is inappropriate.

    92. Marvin — on 14th February, 2008 at 4:46 pm  

      Ok sofia you do support them given the right circumstances. And you are for the civil sharia in uk. I think this is what worries people! Sid and sonia are against the idea. They have both made some very insightful and intelligent comments. I think sid is on the money as to why muslims shouldn’t be for it. But at the end of the day you will all believe what you will. :)

    93. Sunny — on 14th February, 2008 at 5:01 pm  

      First, there is a vast diff betweeen the organisations you mention. Secondly, none of them are trying to ‘spread sharia’ as much as argue that Muslims should have the option if they wanted.

      I think sharia should not be an option if laws within that contravene our own laws. That is likely to be the case anyway. Any other hysterics?

    94. sonia — on 14th February, 2008 at 5:06 pm  

      ah sid, i had to pledge my allegiance to the queen in november, but i must have bee part of the group that didn’t have to touch the bible!

    95. Spurius — on 14th February, 2008 at 6:53 pm  

      Sunny

      Qoute
      It doesn’t matter what you want, the fact is that sharia can already exist in this country and does exist in this country, in some shape or form. This has already been explained plenty of times above. It is inevitable if you want a law of the land that applies equally to everyone, and allows civil arbitration over issues like marriage and divorce
      Unquote

      I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean by this. In what way is sharia (I assume that is what you mean by “it”) inevitable. Plese give an example.

      Why shouldn’t the prsent situation continue? Why shouldn’t British law pay less or no attention to religious beliefs of any kind in the future? Everyone would get the same treatment. i.e., it applies equally to everyone.

    96. Spurius — on 15th February, 2008 at 6:05 am  

      Sunny,

      I wonder what you mean by the word “inevitable”.

      Obviously sharia exists in some ways here now and is treated as a foreign law by British law as and when required, and is allowed as a way of individuals settling disputes on an agreed basis between themselves. British social services even recognise polygamous marriages in certain circumstances.

      But in my reading of my dictionary “inevitable” is used to refer to something, which hasn’t yet happened, or doesn’t yet exist, but will in the future.(And that is what the AoC was on about, a recogntion and allowance of sharia beyond what we have now)

      What is inevitable, unavoidable, about sharia in that sense?

    97. Avi Cohen — on 17th February, 2008 at 11:04 am  

      Compelling reading as it is a nice article on the subject and the possible far reaching consequences:

      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/954471.html

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