Virtual Voices

UK bishop raises ire

Religion

Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester for the Church of England, has brought down the judgment of the United Kingdom's multiculturalists.

In a blunt article for The Sunday Telegraph, Nazir-Ali wrote that an influx of non-Christian immigrants, a loss of Christianity and the growth of multiculturalism has coincided with "a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism."

This has led to the alienation of youth from their nation, along with the creation of "no-go" areas where non-Muslims aren't welcome. Islamism is a "mark of acceptability" there, he said: "Those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them and even the risk of violence."

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Nazir-Ali sounds an elegy for the state-established Church of England, wondering if the substance has disappeared though the forms remain. He also calls on Britain to "recover that vision of its destiny which made it great."

The column aroused the ire of some of the country's 1.6 million Muslims, the timid support of other Britons and the applause of a few. Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, called Nazir-Ali's views "a gross caricature of reality." Ibrahim Mogra from the Muslim Council of Britain said the remarks were "alarming" and, lacking evidence, "simple scaremongering." Mohammed Shafiq from the Ramadhan Foundation called for Nazir-Ali's resignation.

Others have stopped short of endorsing Nazir-Ali's views but have praised him for raising important questions. Philip Johnston, on the other hand, applauded Nazir-Ali for finally articulating "the baleful consequences of three decades of multiculturalism." He noted that the Commission for Racial Equality issued a report that confirms the concern that Britain is splintering.

Despite the furor, Nazir-Ali stands by his comments: "Unless we diagnose the malaise from which we all suffer we shall not be able to discover the remedy."

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