Archbishop Ben Kwashi – “Our people are in shock that an Anglican Archbishop is calling for Sharia law”
Archbishop Ben Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos in Northern Nigeria, was interviewed about the interview that the Archbishop of Canterbury gave on the unavoidability of Sharia Law.
BBC: Although the Archbishop was talking to a British audience about British law, his status as leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion means that his comments have been reported around the world. I spoke to Archbishop Ben Kwashi and he says that Rowan Williams has damaged his international reputation.
Archbishop Ben Kwashi: Our people here are in shock that an Anglican Archbishop is calling for Sharia Law. If the Christians are the ones asking for Sharia Law, now that will be used against us who are saying that we do not think Sharia law will help the cause of freedom and the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Northern Nigeria.Â So if he, the primate of England, is the one asking for it, now what he has done is to arm those who will now have more arguments against us who are saying “We don’t need Sharia law.”
BBC: And in your situation you see the reality of what Sharia law can be.
BK: We have experienced it. We Â know it and in the last nine years full blown Sharia law has been introduced in at least 11 states in Northern Nigeria, and what the church are experiencing in these states is, to say the least, unbearable.
BBC: How surprised are you that a Christian Archbishop should have suggested, in some circumstances, that Sharia might be an appropriate part of the legal system in a country like Britain?
BK. I am shocked. I am disappointed. I am in total disbelief. Because my hope is that when he, Archbishop of Canterbury, comes to Nigeria for example, and he comes to visit us, we will take him to our leaders, some of whom are Muslims and some of whom are Christians, and he can then speak on our behalf where we are not having a fair share. Can we now look up to him as a man who can speak on our behalf?Â You all know about the cutting of hands in Zamfara State. You remember the case of the woman in Kaduna State who was going to be stoned to death. Â All of those kinds of things are what we now are saying that we must examine carefully the implementation of Sharia and we are putting our discussions across with our own Muslim friends around here.
BBC: The Archbishop was very clear that he did not want to see those sorts of inhuman punishments, he called them, implemented in Britain. Is there a danger that this argument is getting confused?
BK. It is not confused at all.Â Because once you ask for the first step of Sharia law you are going to get to the last of it. By 1960 when Nigeria got Independence, it began as penal code. Once it came to this generation they upgraded it to full blown Sharia. So it is only a matter of time when you begin from somewhere that you get to the real thing.