The storm of criticism that greeted the Archbishop of Canterbury's lecture on sharia law in Britain will no doubt have disappointed him but, in fact, he may have done us a great favour by airing this whole area of controversy. He might even be regarded as prescient for discussing sharia, even before demand builds among Muslim communities for special provision in British law.

Indeed, some opinion polls have the number of British Muslims wanting to live under sharia as high as 60 per cent. Furthermore, sharia councils are based in almost every city and town with a sizeable Muslim population. Famously, Canada's politicians came perilously close to introducing Islamic law for matrimonial cases, headed off eventually by an alliance of women's groups and the opposition of ordinary Muslims.

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