'Islam is reviving British values', says former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

He said the religion promotes a sense of duty and community belonging

Islam is rejuvenating “British values”, the former Archbishop of Canterbury has claimed while lambasting sections of the press for presenting Muslims as “un-British”.

Rowan Williams was giving a speech at the annual Living Islam Festival in Lincolnshire on Friday, discussing what British values were and how Muslims could affect them.

He said one of the greatest gifts to Britain had been bringing back “open, honest and difficult public discussion”, the Times reported.

Asked if he thought Islam was restoring British values, he said: “Yes. I’m thinking of the way in which, for example, in Birmingham we have seen a local parish and a mosque combining together to provide family services and youth activities, both acting out of a very strong sense that this is what communities ought to do. ”

Dr Williams was one of several speakers at the event organised by the Islamic Society of Britain, which saw thousands of people gather for four days of talks, debates, music, worship and bazaars.

The now Master of Magdalene College in Cambridge praised both Christianity and Islam for working towards community cohesion and promoting a sense of duty.

But in comments reported by the Guardian, he also objected to the notion of British values, saying they should be more universal.

“The setting-up therefore of British values against any kind of values, whether Muslim or Christian, just won't do,” he said.

David Cameron is today calling for tough action to be agreed by Nato in response to Russia's destabilisation of Ukraine The Prime Minister said the UK needs a 'more muscular approach' to promoting British values His comments have provoked less controversy than some previous statements on Islam.

While still Archbishop of Canterbury in 2008, he sparked a row by saying the use of sharia in some aspects of British law was “unavoidable”.

British Muslim organisations welcomed Dr Williams’ latest remarks but secular groups objected to the suggestion that religious belonging is necessary for social responsibility.

David Cameron has been leading the charge to promote “British values” in the wake of the Birmingham Trojan Horse scandal, with suggestions that children should be taught about the Magna Carta at schools.

In the Mail on Sunday, the Prime Minister wrote: “We need to be far more muscular in promoting British values and the institutions that uphold them.”

Michael Gove also brought the issue into his curriculum changes as Education Secretary, scrapping American classics from English literature GCSEs and changing the history syllabus.

Read more: Does David Cameron really believe in British values?
Outrage as To Kill a Mockingbird axed from GCSE syllabus
Twitter rips apart Gove's 'British values'
Clegg says teaching 'British values' in schools could upset Muslims
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions