LONDON, July 4 (UPI) -- Muslims living in Britain should be able to live under Sharia, the body of Islamic religious law, Britain's most senior judge said.
Chief Lord Justice Nicholas Phillips' remarks support Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who previously suggested aspects of Sharia be adopted in Britain, stirring national debate and prompting calls for his resignation, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
Phillips said Muslims in Britain should be able to use Sharia to decide financial and marital disputes, but criminal courts should decide when a crime has occurred and impose punishment.
"It is possible in this country for those who are entering into a contractual agreement to agree that the agreement shall be governed by law other than English law," Phillips said during a speech at the East London Muslim Center. "There is no reason why principles of Sharia law, or any other religious code, should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution."
Critics said encouraging Muslims to live by a different set of rules would be divisive.
"This would create a two-tier society," said Khalid Mahmood, a lawmaker and practicing Muslim. "It will segregate and alienate the Muslim community from the rest of British society."