'No-go' Bishop defends comments
A Church of England bishop who claimed Islamic extremism has made some places no-go areas for non-Muslims insists he was right to speak out on the issue.
The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali raised
the issue last month in a Sunday Telegraph interview.
Now in a follow-up interview with the same newspaper, he accuses church leaders of not confronting the matter.
"The issue had to be raised. There are times when Christian leaders have to speak out. It's my duty," he says.
Since making the comments in January he has received threats against himself and his family. Dr Nazir-Ali and his family are now under police protection.
In his latest interview, he insists his remarks were "based on evidence" and have been "strengthened as a result of overwhelming correspondence".
Do the British people really want to lose that rooting in the Christian faith that has given them everything they cherish? Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali
He argues that a "spiritual and moral vacuum" has occurred in Britain over the past half-century.
Unless Christianity fills that void, he adds, something else may take its place - "and that could be Islam".
"Do the British people really want to lose that rooting in the Christian faith that has given them everything they cherish - art, literature, architecture, institutions, the monarchy, their value system, their laws?"
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, subsequently faced intense criticism after he said that the adoption of sharia law in the UK was "unavoidable".
But Dr Nazir-Ali tells the Sunday Telegraph that he strongly rejects this analysis.
"People of every faith should be free within the law to follow what their spiritual leaders direct them to, but that's very different saying their structures should replace that of the English legal system because there would be conflicts," he says.