Pakistan-born Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is receiving special police protection after writing an article in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper during January in which he asserted that parts of Britain had become "no go" areas for non-Muslims.
Police are investigating phone calls threatening Nazir-Ali that he would be "sorted out" and would "not live long" if he continued to criticise Islam. An emergency telephone line linked to local police was installed at his home and surveillance cameras around the building have been upgraded.
"The irony is that I had similar threats when I was a bishop in Pakistan, but I never thought I would have them here," the Daily Telegraph on 4 February quoted Nazir-Ali, who has both a Christian and a Muslim family background, as saying.
In his January Sunday Telegraph article, Nazir-Ali also criticised attempts to impose an "Islamic character" on certain areas in Britain by amplifying the call to prayer from mosques.
Ibrahim Mogra, chairperson of the Muslim Council of Britain’s interfaith committee, has condemned the threats against the bishop as "totally unacceptable". This was despite the Muslim council writing earlier to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, expressing concern about Nazir-Ali’s remarks on Islam.
In a 1 February statement on the Web site of the diocese of Rochester, where he is bishop, Nazir-Ali said the purpose of his January article had been "to point out that the best way of welcoming and integrating newer arrivals in the country should have been a Christian vision of hospitality and not the secular policy of multiculturalism which has led to such disastrous consequences". He added, "I deeply regret any hurt and do not wish to cause offence to anyone, let alone my Muslim friends, but unless we diagnose the malaise from which we all suffer we shall not be able to discover the remedy."
Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali will deliver the 2008 Rollie Busch Lecture at Chermside-Kedron Uniitng Church on Monday 31st March 2008 at 7.30pm. Enquiries to 07 3377 9958.
Ecumenical News International
Photo : Anglican Bishop of Rochester Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali