Archbishop of Canterbury Has No Intention of Resigning Over Sharia Uproar

The archbishop of Canterbury has no intention of resigning over his suggestion that Britain's legal system should accommodate aspects of traditional Islamic law, a Church of England official said Sunday.

Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of more than 75 million Anglicans worldwide, kicked off a controversy when, in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio Thursday, he said the implementation of Sharia law in Britain was an inevitable part of achieving social cohesion.

The comments delighted some Muslims, but outraged many others in Britain.

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While Williams has since been backed by other senior bishops, the media's reaction has been poisonous, drawing lurid headlines accusing him of everything from cowardice to tacit support for Islamic terror. Some editorialists have called for him to resign, but the Church of England said Sunday he would do no such thing.

"He is not considering his position," church spokeswoman Marie Papworth said, adding that Williams would not be speaking publicly about the issue until Monday, when he was due to address the General Synod, the church's governing body.

Williams has kept a low profile since the BBC interview, given before a lecture on civil and religious law. But in a statement posted on his Web site, he rejected suggestions he had endorsed the implementation of Shariah law as a kind of parallel Muslim legal system, saying his aim was to raise the broader issue of how to work religious rights within a secular society.