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We should respect minority religious laws, Muslim, Jewish or Hindu: but only if they accept our over-arching tradition of liberty under the law of England

Sharia law is in some respects incompatible with English law: where they clash, English law should prevail

By on Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A Muslim hospital consultant was told last week that he must pay his ex-wife maintenance even though under Islamic law he believes he owes her nothing. An appeal court judge, Lord Justice Ward, told Dr Zaid Al-Saffar that “the rule in this country is that you share and the starting point is equal division”.

Dr Al-Saffar said after the case: “By playing the system and pretending to be a victim she got everything, which I think is totally unfair. Family law in this country is biased against Muslim people.”

Over now to Germany, where in a district court in Cologne last month, a judgment was handed down making it a crime for Jews (or anyone else) to circumcise a male younger than 18, except to treat an ailment. The court said that parental rights and religious freedom must yield to the child’s right of “physical integrity”. The ruling put the accepted practice in legal doubt, and the German Medical Association consequently advised doctors to stop circumcisions for the time being. Earlier this month, however, the Bundestag passed a resolution calling for legislation permitting the practice. Jewish religious leaders had already held an international meeting to discuss how to respond to the ruling, and the head of the Conference of European Rabbis later told Reuters that it was part of a trend to limit religious freedom in Europe. The Cologne judgment has to be seen in the context of a general campaign against male circumcision that appears to be gaining momentum. It has its own website, which I see publicises a demonstration which last week marched on the German embassy to deliver a letter supporting the Cologne ruling.

Now, circumcision of new-born male babies is quite simply a non-negotiable mandate of the Jewish religion. “The covenant of circumcision” is first mentioned in the Torah: God commands Abraham to circumcise himself and his offspring: “Every male among you shall be circumcised…it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. Whoever is eight days old shall be circumcised, every male throughout your generations” (Genesis 17:11-12). That simply means that any secular legal judgment forbidding the circumcision of anyone under the age of 18 is a judgment also forbidding the practice of Judaism: surely, for such a judgment to be handed down by a court in Germany of all nations is worse than merely “insensitive” (as the German foreign minister is reported as having said): it is an outrage against human decency more serious there than anywhere else.

Back to that judgment against Dr Zaid Al-Saffar, who thinks that the amount that the courts have ruled he must pay to his ex-wife, (amounting virtually to a 50-50 split) is — his word — “outrageous”. But that’s not all he thinks: he thinks, also, that it means that “family law in this country is biased against Muslim people”.

So, if I think that Jews have a right to infant male circumcision, if I’m against the secular law interfering with religious practice, you might think I would support Dr Al-Saffar. Wrong: not only do I not support him: I think that he is the one who is being outrageous. It may be that the prenuptial agreement to which he came with his wife-to-be was valid under Sharia law. But Sharia is not part of the law of England, and marriage is, for everyone, a state which is governed by those laws: Sharia may be tolerated as an informal arrangement (indeed, as such it can’t practicably be forbidden) on Muslim premises, with the agreement of all parties involved.

You may remember that in one of his more famous speculative flights of fancy, Dr Rowan Williams said it seemed “inevitable” that elements of Islamic law, such as those governing divorce, would be incorporated into British law; we had, he said, to “face up to the fact” that some citizens do not relate to the British legal system, and that officially sanctioning Sharia law would improve community relations… there are ways of looking at marital disputes, for example, which provide an alternative to the… courts as we understand them.”

Well, if his ideas had been translated into British law, it would have been just hard cheese for Dr Al-Saffar’s ex-wife who would have been divorced whether she liked it or not (“I divorce thee, I divorce thee, I divorce thee” is enough under Sharia for the husband) and she would, furthermore, have had no right to a financial settlement for herself and her children (if her husband had allowed her to keep them).

Dr Ziba Mir-Hosseini, an expert on Islamic family law, points out that Muslim law on marriage “…suits the interests of men rather than women.” Central to Islamic marriage law is the wife’s duty of submission to her husband, which he purchases by agreeing to provide for her for the duration of the marriage. He can divorce her at any time if she refuses to submit to his will. Sharia has no concept of “marital property”: this means that women have no right to alimony from their ex-husbands. Furthermore, fathers always have guardianship over the children. And if a woman remarries, she loses the right even to see her children without their father’s permission.

And that is what Dr Williams wanted to make part of the law of England. In Mrs Thatcher’s famous words in another context, “No, no, no”. The simple fact is that this part of Sharia, under which very clearly many Muslim women unwillingly chafe, is quite different from another kind of religious law entirely, the law unanimously accepted by all religious Jews without exception — that they must obey the Torah’s mandatum on infant circumcision. There can be no comparison. Sharia law on marriage, as Dr Zaid Al-Saffar’s wife has vividly demonstrated, is not necessarily willingly accepted by both partners in a marriage contract; and in this country either partner must have the right to appeal against it to the law of the land.

Dr Williams, by making Sharia for Muslims part of English law, would presumably have taken away the rights of Muslim women to challenge a contract into which they had been in some way coerced or pressurised. As Alasdair Palmer observed on Sunday in the Telegraph: “In 2010, the Supreme Court recognised the validity of pre-nuptial agreements that vary the division for marital property from the 50-50 split that the English law says should be the basis of every divorce. But they did so with important caveats: if there was evidence that one party had been pressurised into signing an agreement that disadvantaged them, or if the courts just thought the agreement was unfair, then a ‘pre-nup’ would not be valid, and the settlement would revert to an equal division.” Lord Justice War presumably found that Mrs Al-Saffar had good reason to appeal against her own prenuptial contract on the grounds that it was unfair.

Setting the Al-Saffar ruling to one side, those cases where there is in an element of possible undue pressure or coercion are particularly repugnant to our traditions and our deepest values, to principles which have over the centuries been hard won. There is nothing anti-Islamic in this. The same principle applies, for instance, to Hindu attempts here in this country to behave coercively to the Dalits, the so-called “untouchables”: it is bad enough in India; here it is intolerable and, more to the point, illegal. In too many other countries, the purpose of the law is to coerce all or part of the population. Here, its purpose is to defend our liberties. We English are not always grateful enough for what we have; we must fight, harder than we do, to protect it.

  • Phillp

    …And what stand do you take on kosha and halal killing of animals for food, Dr Oddie?

  • Michael

    Modern governments has become too powerful everywhere around the world. It is a tendency of large bureaucracies to eternally expand. Freedom means allowing others their views and lifestyles as long as they don’t trample on your own individual rights. The government has no business dictating to Christians, Muslims, or  Jews. In the end, its about who has the power- government or individuals. Freedom of religion is part of individual liberty which is why the Church of England should be disestablished as the government has no business dictating religion. Finally, the government has no right to force churches to accept same sex marriages either. If the government can not accept the Muslim or Jewish religious practices then they are free to actually be selective in their immigration laws as there is no universal right to live in another country; but once in the country people should not be coerced into accepting the religion of secular humanistic government

  • Gavin Wheeler

     “The simple fact is that this part of Sharia, under which very clearly
    many Muslim women unwillingly chafe, is quite different from another
    kind of religious law entirely, the law unanimously accepted by all religious Jews without exception”

    I think the relevant comparison is whether circumcision is ‘unanimously accepted by’ ALL the boys who are circumcised in this way (once they are grown up) and to what extent it ‘harms’ those who are circumcised and would wish not to be. If any significant fraction resent being circumcised and suffer to any significant degree as a result, there is a reasonable argument against allowing parents to impose this surgical procedure on their children for religious reasons.

    Of course pragmatically, I don’t see how you could distinguish between a parent who is doing this for religious reasons, and those who at least claim that they are doing it for hygienic reasons.

  • Fritz

    “There can be no comparison. Sharia law on marriage[...] is not necessarily willingly accepted by both partners”

    And circumcision CAN’T be willingly accepted by an infant. 

  • Jonathan West

    Were do you stand on the minority rights of the Catholic church not to report the sexual abuse of children – even when it becomes known to another priest through confession?

    Just be careful not to say that those rights should be inviolable while other minority rights are not.

  • http://twitter.com/MrCravat MrCravat

    Agree and Disestablishment cannot come soon enough.I walked out of the CoE after 12 years after finding it nothing to be but a moribund middle class social club that was far from “inclusive”.
    A written constitution is needed to protect the rights of all who wish to worship without fear of persecution.

  • Hughes196

     What exactly is your point, Jonathan? We’re not talking here about criminal acts sanctioned both by church and state but about the law of the land against other legal systems based on religion. Apples do not equal oranges, my boy.

  • Charlemagne

    If medical doctors agree that circumcision is harmful then the ban would be justified on medical reasons; Jewish adults could be free to circumcise themselves but not children who can’t consent.

    In relation to Muslim marriage, if the marriage was entered voluntarily, without any coercion, then both parties are responsible for the arrangement and can’t expect government to indulge their lack of constancy. However, if coerced, the marriage should not be seen as valid to begin with.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C6A4TBCEGDYSN6YG5ATKFQ6RSU Hugh

    The hoops that people put themselves through to defend infant male genital cutting are quite extraordinary. They readily compare it with making children eat spinach or wearing pyjamas, but don’t anyone DARE to compare it with infant female genital cutting or Islamic marriage. How about slashing children’s heads on the day of Ashura? If that is not OK, how can cutting part right off their bodies be?

    “those cases where there is in an element of possible undue pressure or coercion are particularly repugnant to our traditions and our deepest values, to principles which have over the centuries been hard won.” And holding an infant down and cutting part off without so much as a by-your-leave is not worse than pressure or coercion? That is the real “outrage to human decency”, not a law that stays the hands of adults from doing it to babies.

    ” the law unanimously accepted by all religious Jews without exception” Not all, not these: http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/ http://www.beyondthebris.com/ http://tinyurl.com/britshalom

    “Whoever is eight days old shall be circumcised, every male throughout your generations” (Genesis 17:11-12) You left part out. The verse goes on “…he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.” So the same verse you use to defend infant circumcision also implictly defends slavery. And does that include today’s paid staff?

    Why do you put scare quotes around “physical integrity”. In Britain it has been seen as a human right since 1765 and Sir William Blackstone: “Besides those limbs and members that may be necessary to man … the rest of his person or body is also entitled by the same natural right to security from the corporal insults of menaces, assaults, beating, and wounding; though such insults amount not to destruction of life or member….” – Commentaries on the Laws of EnglandThe campaign to protect non-consenting people from genital cutting has more than one website. e.g. http://www.circumstitions.com

  • scary goat

    To my mind, this is all a very complex situation and I don’t pretend to know the answers, but I’d like to raise a few points.  When we say “we” I’m assuming “we” are talking as English rather than Catholic? Then comes the question of how do we define English? Is England a Christian country? Is it secular? Where do we draw the line on freedom of religion?  We now have a multi-cultural society.  Many muslims and other religious groups are now third and fourth generation.  Then we can add in some extra confusion regarding theory and practice.  While “we” as catholics have the moral high-ground regarding marriage, “we” as English certainly don’t.  Although the Islam allows polygamy, in reality it is rarely practised, and divorce rates amongst muslims are extremely low compared to the English divorce rate.  Generally muslims have better family values.  While to a great extent I do agree that immigrant (or minority) communities should be subject to the law of the land, we seem to have a bit of a problem here as catholics, because, sadly, England is no longer a Catholic country.  Not all muslims are immigrants…there are also a growing number of English converts to the Islam.  Likewise there are a considerable number of English Buddhists.  English law has been, to a very great extent, based on Christian principles, but that is changing.   It is very difficult to say “we” as English because we don’t seem to know who we are any more. We can say “we” as catholics, but we are now a minority, albeit a large minority, in our own country.

    Look at our own divorce on demand policies. So many English people don’t marry, either because they don’t see the point or because they are afraid.  English marriage has become a piece of paper with no guarantees. There is no question of “blame”…..a guilty party in divorce.  How often does a woman leave her husband and gets priority on custody of the children, rights to the house, maintenance etc. with no questions asked, simply because it is deemed that the mother is the best primary carer. She is then free under English law to remarry.  (All due sympathy to genuine divorce cases for a good reason, ie. domestic violence, but frequently this is not the case). “We” as English have lost our way. 

    I suppose I am sort of saying we need to stick to “we” as catholics and present our views as such, because “we” as English is such a grey area. Thanks to Henry V111.

    ps. to Jonathan West.  If you are implying that priests should break the seal of the confessional, no.  The implications of that are unthinkable and it’s not going to happen.  While I agree that the abuse scandal is horrific, there are other ways to deal with it.  Breaking the seal of the confessional is not an option. Actually it would be counter-productive.  If priests were to break the seal of the confessional would anyone go to a priest with a serious problem?  Assuming that abusing priests go to confession in the first place??? And if they do, they wouldn’t if they thought they would be reported, and an opportunity to deal with the problem would be missed.  Certainly it hasn’t been dealt with at all well, but breaking the seal of the confessional is not an answer. 

  • JabbaPapa

    If medical doctors agree that circumcision is harmful then the ban would be justified on medical reasons

    That would be true only if we were living in a Iatrocracy ; but we aren’t.

    So that in fact, doctors have no more rights to impose their preferences on the rest of society as anyone else might have.

    In relation to Muslim marriage, if the marriage was entered voluntarily,
    without any coercion, then both parties are responsible for the
    arrangement and can’t expect government to indulge their lack of
    constancy

    This is in fact a question concerning divorce, not marriage. There is no question of not recognising the validity of any existing marriages, in fact quite the opposite.

  • JabbaPapa

    That is a rather simplistic way of considering these matters — but we’re talking here about the very basic principles of Law, as they have existed for thousands of years. You basically propose to flush these principles down the toilet. I cannot agree with such an odd proposal.

  • JabbaPapa

    We now have a multi-cultural society.  >>>>>   It is very difficult to say “we” as English because we don’t
    seem to know who we are any more.

    There is actually no such thing as a “multi-cultural society”, this is an oxymoron that has been foisted onto the inhabitants of various Western countries by a clique of Socialist-inspired political theorists, of mainly US origin.

    Single societies can, and do, exist that have a complex cultural origin ; no single society, however, contains multiple cultures within itself — any situation where this can be observed is properly described as a “fractured society” or a “decadent society”.

    There are basic principles that no society can compromise on, without causing harm to itself — it is very difficult to say “we” as English because the English have been brainwashing themselves since the 1960s to view compromise as systematically virtuous, so that English society has basically destroyed itself.

  • JabbaPapa

    Ludicrous — the priest in his confessional is NOT the only type of professional who is ethically bound to provide complete confidence and secrecy to those consulting them.

    Lawyers, doctors, psychologists, the police, and many others, provide professional secrecy to individuals, in varying degrees, and with varying limitations according to the profession. This confidentiality is absolutely vital and necessary for the proper exercise of their profession.

    What would you think if a lawyer, representing an accused murderer for his defense, were to announce in Court the contents of some private conversations he had with his client, demonstrating that person’s guilt ? Would that lawyer not be guilty of a gross professional misconduct, and would not the fundamental rights of this accused have been grossly violated, and would not the very concept of a fair trial simply cease to exist if this were to be deemed acceptable ?

    None of these professionals these, including priests, are bound to any form of secrecy concerning whatever they may learn outside of such professional circumstances ; nor are the victims of any sex abuses, nor are their families.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    When I was taught law many years ago we were told that there were different kinds of law: statute law, common law, the law of equity and customary law.  I would have thought that sharia law is a customary law and therefore part of our law for those who subscribe to it.  However customary law is only valid insofar as it does not conflict with the other kinds of law.  In the same way the rules of a tennis club or Catholic Canon Law would be regarded as customary law in the eyes of English lawyers.  Christianity however is more deeply embedded in our law as it inspired the law of equity administered by the Lord Chancellor in the Courts of Chancery acting as the conscience of the king and in medieval times invariably a cleric until St Thomas More became the first layman to occupy that post – and look where acting as the conscience of the king got him!  

    So I would say yes to sharia law but within strict limits.The problem to-day is that the Churches in the UK seem to be in retreat and allow the state to occupy their territory in guiding the morals of our nation.  I am busily reading Kenneth Minogue’s “The Servile Mind – How Democracy erodes the Moral Life”!

  • awkwardcustomer

    ‘The simple fact is that this part of Sharia, under which very clearly many Muslim women unwillingly chafe, is quite different from another kind of religious law entirely, the law unanimously accepted by all religious Jews without exception — that they must obey the Torah’s mandatum on infant circumcision.’
    Is this a valid distinction?  It may be true that ‘all religious Jews without exception’ accept the ‘Torah’s mandatum on infant circumcision’.  And that not all Muslims, or Muslim states, accept Sharia law in its entirety.  But for those Muslims who do accept Sharia law in its entirety, the obligation to follow its precepts must be just as binding as the obligation that religious Jewish parents are under to circumcise their infant sons.

  • Lewispbuckingham

     Many years ago I used to listen to Radio Peking on my valve short wave radio with a thirty foot aerial.
     The perfectly spoken announcer was answering listeners’ questions.
    ‘Does the Peoples’ Republic of China Constitutionally support freedom of Religion?’
     Answer ‘Yes, as long as the religious organisation acts according to the Law.’
     You need an independant judiciary, a free press that is competent, regular free elections.
    Most of all an educated population that holds religious freedom to be a fundamental right and is prepared to argue for its implementation, and vote in political leadership that is so enlightened.

  • JabbaPapa

    Are you seriously suggesting that there is no valid distinction between a religious birth ritual lasting some few minutes, and some complex legalities affecting the entirety of the lives and weal of large numbers of British citizens ????

    Or what — if it’s religious, it’s bad ; or some other such nonsensical radical secularist/liberalist claptrap ?

    And you’re wrong about Sharia law BTW — it requires that State Laws must be obeyed.

    That law attempts to *redefine* State Laws according to Sharia (with the obvious exceptions) but no Muslim has any normal legal recourse against State Law if the State does not provide one.

    The whole exercise was clearly a deliberate attempt, apart from the divorce itself, to try and subject the British legal system to Islam.

  • Jonathan West

    circumcision of new-born male babies is quite simply a non-negotiable mandate of the Jewish religion

    And the sanctity of the confessional is “quite simply a non-negotiable mandate” of the Cathoilic faith, and I have no doubt that human sacrifice was a non-negotiable mandate of the Aztec and Inca religions.

    The prohibition against usury used to be a non-negotiable mandate of all varieties of Christianity, as was the acceptance of slavery. Divorce used to be absolutely prohibited within Christianity.

    The point is that there are many things which used to be non-negotiable elements of various religions but which are no longer. Calling some present element of religion “non-negotiable” doesn’t make it so.

    The fact is that morals, far from being the eternal “objective values” fondly imagined by religions, are very much contingent and varying with time and place. Anybody with moderate knowledge of history is aware if this if they choose to notice it. It is because moral values change over time that scripture ends up needing to “interpreted”, with different interpretations in different ages. The requirement is for scripture to be made relevant to modern morals lest religion become entirely irrelevant.

    So, the Jewish requirements for circumcision are under pressure at present. Is circumcision any more an essential part of Jewishness than the death penalty for working on the Sabbath? That was once non-negotiable, and is long gone now.  

    One of two things will happen here. either the rest of the world decides that infant male circumcision is not that big a deal and decides not to press for abolition, or the Jewish community will end up deciding that Jewish religious identity is not quite as dependent on circumcision as they had previously thought, and they will find a way of maintaining Jewish identity without it. Which way it will go is not yet known.

    There are a great many things which we regard today as morally justified or even morally necessary that I suspect will be regarded as unspeakable barbarities a century hence. It’s an entertaining game to guess what they are, but we will probably all be dead before the answers come in.

  • Jonathan West

    I was warning against exceptionalism. Every religion has what it regards as its “non-negotiable mandates”. Circumcision is one for the Jwish faith, the sancitity of the confessional has a similar status in the Catholic faith, and Sharia family law is an equivalent in Islam.

    Just be aware that if you casually toss aside the non-negotiable mandates of other people’s religions, your own may be subject to less respect by others as a result. Just claiming “non-negotiable” isn’t of itself enough justification for automatic respect by those who do not share your faith.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Oh dear.  I was simply wondering if a distinction could really be made between religious observances on the grounds that one is practiced by all adherents of a particular religion, and the other is only practiced by some adherents of a particular religion.  What William Oddie seems to be suggesting is that because all religious Jews recognize and practice circumcision, then that is grounds enough for it being protected by law in a secular society.  Whereas the aspects of Sharia law relating to marriage and divorce are not held by all Muslims and so need not be given similar protection.

    In defense of the right of Jewish parents to continue this practice, I would have used another argument, that’s all – basically, that it’s their religion and nobody else’s business. Having said that, however, I would not defend those Muslim parents who impose FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) on their daughters.  

    According to the Muslim doctor in the divorce case, Dr Al-Saffar, ‘By playing the system and pretending to be a victim she [his wife] got everything, which I think is totally unfair. Family law in this country is biased against Muslim people.’

    Perhaps what he should have said was – Family law in this country is biased against MEN.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Are you not confusing “morals” in the sense of how people actually think or behave with absolute moral standards?  You seem to be a bit of a relativist and I wonder whether you believe that anything is intrinsically wrong?  A few years ago PIE and others were advocating child abuse but now most people, including yourself, regard that with horror.  Is that a change in morals or was it always intrinsically wrong?

  • Jonathan West

    The issue with PIE was that two freedoms clashed – the freedom to exchange ideas and the freedom not to suffer from child sex abuse. As a society, once we recognised the existence of that conflict, we decided which freedom had to take precedence over the other and to what extent, we decided that exchanging ideas and information about paedophilia was unacceptable and legislated accordingly.

    The same issue in principle applies to the disclosure of crimes in the confessional, this is a freedom which conflicts with the freedom not to suffer from those crimes. In Ireland the Catholic church has so abused its power in the matter of the child sex abuse scandal that Ireland has decided that the sanctity of the confessional is not something it is prepared to tolerate when child sex crimes are under discussion.

    We have to recognise what Sir Isaiah Berlin described as the “pluralism of values”. As he described:

    It is a commonplace that neither political equality nor efficient organization nor social justice is compatible with more than a modicum of individual liberty, and certainly not with unrestricted laissez-faire; that justice and generosity, public and private loyalties, the demands of genius and the claims of society can conflict violently with each other

    In other words, moral dilemmas exist, not in choosing between good and evil (those are the easy choices), but in the inevitable choices which have to be made between different forms of good which cannot all be wholly and simultaneously accommodated. Social justice is good, and so is individual liberty, but each must be circumscribed to some extent in order to make some room for the other. Because you are dealing with different forms of good, there is no single obviously right answer as to what the correct balance between them should be. Moreover, the view of each of us as to where the correct balance should be may change with time and circumstances. In turn, that means that we should be very hesitant to force our own view of the appropriate balance on others, lest we be on the receiving end next time.

  • Jeannine

    Male circumcism is not only a religious issue for Jewish & Muslim males but it is also a health issue for the rest of us.

    I remember asking my OB-GYN when I was pregnant with my 1st child what were the pros & cons to circumcise the baby if it turns out to be a boy.  He bluntly told me that penal cancer occurs in only the uncircumcised, the rate of spreading disease to a woman is much greater, & about half of the uncircumcised males will have to go through the procedure anyway when reaching adulthood for health reasons, which then the procedure becomes painful for a longer period of time as some of you can well imagine.

    I don’t remember any obvious cons. My guess is if boys are diligently taught at a very young age the correct way to clean daily their uncircumcised parts & continue daily cleaning for the rest of their lives then they do not have to worry about contracting disease in that area. I have yet to meet a man who did not go through a “dirty body” stage when he was younger.

    As far as I know there is no health benefit for female circumcism.

  • JabbaPapa

    And the sanctity of the confessional is “quite simply a non-negotiable
    mandate” of the Cathoilic faith, and I have no doubt that human
    sacrifice was a non-negotiable mandate of the Aztec and Inca religions.

    Are you a raving lunatic ?

  • JabbaPapa

    Perhaps what he should have said was – Family law in this country is biased against MEN.

    hmmmm OK I see what you meant then.

  • Mr Grumpy

    You are remarkably confident that one way or the other it will all end up in cosy consensus. The history of the Jewish people would suggest that your confidence might be more accurately labelled complacency. The third possible outcome is that the Jews continue to hold the scriptural mandate on circumcision to be non-negotiable, whilst people who are not averse to having a stick to beat the Jews with take full advantage and zealously start up a new wave of anti-Semitic persecution in the name of human rights. And in that situation I suggest it would not be good enough to sit on the sideline waiting to see how it pans out.

  • Dr_Spence

    All proof that “religion poisons everything”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KSDY3PMVEAUJVLDCBTEEXST5EM David T

    According to our learned judges, “the aphorism that ‘Christianity is part of the common law of England’ is now mere rhetoric”. So, presumably, the same applies to Islam and Judaism.  Well, let’s hope it does.

  • Judithjmidwinter

    Stop telling everybody what they should do oddy.

  • Judithjmidwinter

    No an infant can’t willingly accept mutilation OR baptism.

  • Jonathan West

    They have changed their minds on inviolability of the Sabbath. And anybody who uses the circumcision issue as a pretext for anti-semitic persecution needs to be firmly opposed by all of us.

  • Jonathan West

    No. Are you?

  • Cotswold59

    “[Under Sharia] fathers always have guardianship over the children. And if a woman remarries, she loses the right even to see her children without their father’s permission.” Equally scandalous, under this country’s “secular” law, mothers effectively have guardianship over the children, and if a woman remarries, the father effectively loses the right to see his children without the mother’s permission. Now that really IS a scandal about which we should be concerned.

  • Jonathan West

    Hmm. Would you not regard Catholicism to be a distinct and separate culture that exists within British society? Has British society not therefore been “multi-cultural” for centuries?

  • JabbaPapa

    No and no.

  • John Wilson

    This law of England tosh is silly. Scotland does not follow the law of England so this English imperialism is laughable. England is NOT the UK, is NOT Britain but only one part.

  • John Wilson

     English? It doesn’t say that on your passport. You’re British, and share these islands with other countries. Get ti right. Don’t you know where you live?

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