Even prominent Muslims were rounding on Dr Williams. Shahid Malik, Labour MP for Dewsbury, said: “I haven’t experienced any clamour or fervent desire for sharia law in this country.
“If there are people who prefer sharia law there are always countries where they could go and live.”
Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, rejected the idea that British law forces Muslims to choose between their religion and their society.
He said: “This will alienate people from other communities because they will think it is what Muslims want – and it is not.”
The Muslim Council of Britain came to Dr Williams’s aid, however, describing his comments in a lecture to lawyers and a BBC interview as “thoughtful”.