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Archbishop for sharia law in Britain

world Updated: Feb 08, 2008 20:07 IST

The archbishop of Canterbury has advocated limited application of Islamic sharia law in Britain which has provoked a row between the Christian leader and the government.

Archbishop Rowan Williams has provoked an outcry over his comments that Britain had to "face up to the fact" that some citizens did not relate to this country's legal system and argued that officially sanctioning sharia law would improve community relations.

Britain's highest ranking Christian leader said that it "seems inevitable" that elements of the Muslim law, such as divorce proceedings, would be incorporated into the country's legislation.

His comments have been questioned by Downing Street and religious groups.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman immediately rejected Williams' proposal. "The Prime Minister believes British law should apply in this country, based on British values," said the spokesman, quick to distance Downing Street from the Archbishop's comments.

"I think there is one law in this country and it's the democratically determined law," Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was quoted as saying by Britain's Daily Telegraph today.

The sharia has draconian punishments such as amputation of limbs, death by stoning or canning for crimes such as theft, adultery or blasphemy.

"This is a Christian country with Christian laws. If Muslims want to live under sharia law then they are free to emigrate to a country where sharia law is already in operation," Stephen Green, the director of Christian Voice, was reported as saying in the report.