Is it fair to require Muslims born in Britain and brought up under Sharia law to accept as universal, laws which are underpinned by and reflect Western values utterly at odds with Muslim beliefs?

It's hard to know exactly how to respond to this question, I'm afraid, without knowing what the specific conflict is. I suppose your questions might be rephrased as something like: when religious imperatives are somehow inconsistent with government law, which should be given precedence? I don't think there is a definite answer to this question. I can think of cases (such as conscientious objection to military service or the defiance of race-based segregations laws on religious grounds) where I think religious imperatives trump national law. I can also think of cases (such as laws against murder, rape, or assault), where I think national law should supersede religious prohibition. I suppose your question might refer to the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent remarks about incorporating Sharia into British law. Evaluating his remarks depends, however, upon what specific changes one might take them to imply. I think distinct judicial system for Muslims in Britain would be a bad idea, but a separate banking system may not. Sharia-oriented prohibitions against blasphemy should generally not be honored, not because they're Muslim but because they're morally and politically indefensible. British law, like American law, however, might I think relax its prohibitions against polygamy--but not, I think, its sanctioning no fault divorce, not its custody rights for women, and not its requirement that marriage be a consensual affair among adults only. So, you see, one really needs to look at the issues on a case-by-case basis and not pursue a general principle here.

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