[JURIST] UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official website] Friday rejected a suggestion by the nation's highest Christian cleric that UK Muslims be given an option to resolve some civil disputes under Sharia law [CFR backgrounder] rather than UK law. Speaking [interview transcript] to the BBC, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams [official profile] appeared to agree that limited application of Sharia law might help to ease social tension between Muslims and other UK residents, but a Brown spokesperson said that the same laws must apply to every citizen. AP has more.
Williams' comments have sparked outrage [BBC report] both from social conservatives, who maintain that UK law should be exclusively based on Christianity, and from liberals, who fear that implementation of Sharia law might hurt the rights of women and homosexuals. The Archbishop's press office said [press release] Friday that the Archbishop "certainly did not call for [Sharia's] introduction as some kind of parallel jurisdiction to the civil law." The Archbishop of Canterbury is the English head of the worldwide Anglican communion that includes the Episcopal Church in the United States.