January 06, 2008

One Bishop Who Knows about What He Is Talking

The Telegraph informs us in a deserving article by Jonathan Wynne-Jones about "no-go zones for non-Muslims" in Britain.
The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester and the Church's only Asian bishop, says that people of a different race or faith face physical attack if they live or work in communities dominated by a strict Muslim ideology.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he compares the threat to the use of intimidation by the far-Right, and says that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christianity to be the nation's public religion in a multifaith, multicultural society.

His comments come as a poll of the General Synod - the Church's parliament - shows that its senior leaders, including bishops, also believe that Britain is being damaged by large-scale immigration.

Bishop Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan, gives warning that attempts are being made to give Britain an increasingly Islamic character by introducing the call to prayer and wider use of sharia law, a legal system based on the Koran.

In an attack on the Government's response to immigration and the influx of "people of other faiths to these shores", he blames its "novel philosophy of multiculturalism" for allowing society to become deeply divided, and accuses ministers of lacking a "moral and spiritual vision".

Echoing Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, who has said that the country is "sleepwalking into segregation", the bishop argues that multiculturalism has led to deep divisions.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, has accused Muslims of promoting a kind of "voluntary apartheid" by shutting themselves in closed societies and demanding immunity from criticism.

In the Synod survey, to be published this week, bishops, senior clergy and influential churchgoers said that an increasingly multi-faith society threatens the country's Christian heritage and blamed the divisions on the Government's failure to integrate immigrants into their communities.
Bishop Nazir-Ali, whose father converted from Islam to Catholicism, was criticised by Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain. He said: "It's irresponsible for a man of his position to make these comments.

"He should accept that Britain is a multicultural society in which we are free to follow our religion at the same time as being extremely proud to be British. We wouldn't allow 'no-go' areas to happen. I smell extreme intolerance when people criticise multiculturalism without proper evidence of what has gone wrong."

But the Bishop's concerns are shared by other members of the General Synod.

The Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, the Bishop of Blackburn, which has a large Muslim community, said that it was increasingly difficult for Christians to share their faith in areas where there was a high proportion of immigrants of other faiths.

Read the rest here.
If the Bishop of Blackburn is talking about "faiths" (plural), I wonder which faiths that might be. Jews? Hindus?

The article is, as I said, basically deserving and I suppose we can not expect from a broadsheet newspaper anything more bold. However, as long as we don't even dare to address the problem without the use of euphemisms, relativations and weak, vague and fuzzy statements, such as to blame the Government instead of the immigrants themselves for the failure to integrate (I wonder why other immigrant groups are not doing too badly, integrationwise), or letting a speaker of the British Muslim blather about the lack of "proper evidence", we won't be able to solve it -- in Britain or anywhere else where Christians have become an endangered species.

It is interesting, too, that a bishop with some familiarity with Islam, of all bishops, should be the first to utter such a daring warning. It somewhat reminds me of the many tacit or open Irgunists among the North African Jews in Palestine, when their European brethren still thought that Arabs could be dealt with kindly.

Oh yes, another thing: It is not JUST about faith, is it? Without his habit, Bishop Nazir-Ali would have no problem entering those no-go zones -- and coming back safe and sound.

Hat-tip: Catholic Church Conservation!