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Archbishop of Canterbury faces calls to quit

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Reuters / February 10, 2008

LONDON - The archbishop of Canterbury yesterday faced calls to resign over remarks that have been interpreted as suggesting that the introduction of some aspects of Islamic law was unavoidable in Britain.

Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, has denied that he had called for Islamic law, known as sharia, to be introduced alongside British law.

In a BBC interview on Thursday, he referred to the use of sharia in some personal or domestic issues, much as Orthodox Jews have their own courts for some matters. Asked whether sharia needed to be applied in some cases for community cohesion, Williams said: "It seems unavoidable."

Williams faced a torrent of critical headlines for a second day yesterday, and the Sun newspaper launched a campaign to remove him from office.

The Sun printed a form so that readers could make a "complaint of misconduct" against Williams, who it said had destroyed his credibility and "given heart to Muslim terrorists."

Some bishops criticized Williams's remarks and several members of the Church of England's governing body, the general synod, called for his resignation.

"I don't think he is the right man for the job any longer. . . . At best it was politically inept and at worst it was sheer foolishness," general synod member Alison Ruoff told Sky News.

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