Anglican Bishops – and quite a lot of other people – are demanding that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams resign his post over his call to implement Sharia law in Britain. The people denouncing Williams include a fairly large number of Muslim politicians, apparently. Rowan is reported to not understand what the row is all about.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was facing demands to quit last night as the row over sharia law intensified.
Leading bishops publicly contradicted Dr Rowan Williams's call for Islamic law to be brought into the British legal system.
With the Church of England plunged into crisis, senior figures were said to be discussing the archbishop's future.
One member of the church's "Cabinet", the Archbishop's Council, was reported as saying: "There have been a lot of calls for him to resign. I don't suppose he will take any notice, but, yes, he should resign."
Officials at Lambeth Palace told the BBC Dr Williams was in a "state of shock" and "completely overwhelmed" by the scale of the row.
It was said that he could not believe the fury of the reaction. The most damaging attack came from the Pakistan-born Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali.
He said it would be "simply impossible" to bring sharia law into British law "without fundamentally affecting its integrity".
Sharia "would be in tension with the English legal tradition on questions like monogamy, provisions for divorce, the rights of women, custody of children, laws of inheritance and of evidence.
"This is not to mention the relation of freedom of belief and of expression to provisions for blasphemy and apostasy."
The church's second most senior leader, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, refused to discuss the matter. But he has said sharia law "would never happen" in Britain.
Politicians joined the chorus of condemnation, with Downing Street saying British law should be based on British values. Tory and LibDem leaders also voiced strong criticism.
Even prominent Muslims were rounding on Dr Williams. Shahid Malik, Labour MP for Dewsbury, said: "I haven't experienced any clamour or fervent desire for sharia law in this country.
"If there are people who prefer sharia law there are always countries where they could go and live."
Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, rejected the idea that British law forces Muslims to choose between their religion and their society.
He said: "This will alienate people from other communities because they will think it is what Muslims want – and it is not."
Nice to see that backlash coming from Muslims. Williams is, quite obviously, completely unable to handle the job and is botching pretty much everything he touches at this point. The Church of England is going to have to either get rid of him or suffer even further damage. I am quite sure that Williams means well. He just is in completely over his head and is obviously clueless as to how badly he is.