UK Leaders Question British Pakistani Cousin Marriage Practice After Shariah Flap

Pronouncements by politicians and religious leaders are again spotlighting the cultural divide between the Muslim community and the rest of British society. This time, the issue is people who marry their cousins. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William suggested last week that the adoption of some form of Islamic law was “unavoidable” _ a remark that sparked protests from commentators and politicians who said Muslims must abide by British law. Then, as that furor subsided, two governing Labour Party lawmakers called for a frank discussion of the health risk posed by Pakistanis who marry their cousins. Lawmakers Phil Woolas and Ann Cryer, citing high rates of birth defects, said Britons must question the practice of arranging marriages between first cousins. Both warned of grave public health consequences if the custom continues.