Police protect Nazir-Ali as he is warned that he will not live long if he criticises Islam, reports Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Leading political and religious leaders have condemned death threats against the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, and his family.
Dr Nazir-Ali was warned that he would not "live long" and would be "sorted out" if he continued to criticise Islam, following his claim that parts of Britain had become "no-go" areas for non-Muslims.
Police have launched inquiries into the phone calls that were made to his home and have put him and his family under police protection with the use of an emergency line.
Surveillance cameras around the building have been improved. The bishop's mail is being screened by the Post Office as an added precaution.
"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 bishop said. Meanwhile, Muslim leaders are to meet him in an emergency summit to challenge him over his claims, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
Senior members of the Muslim Council of Britain have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, expressing serious concerns at the remarks by Dr Nazir-Ali. The meeting is expected to go ahead later this month, under the auspices of the Muslim-Christian Forum.
Relations between the two faiths became strained after the bishop argued that there had been attempts to "impose an Islamic" character on certain areas, for example by amplifying the call to prayer from mosques.
Last night David Davis, the shadow home secretary, condemned the threats as an attack on free speech, saying: "Whether you agree with the bishop or not, he has the absolute right to say what he said.
"The ability of all faiths to flourish in Britain is based on our fundamental tradition of free speech. Anyone who attacks this is not serving the interests of either British society or the Muslim faith."
Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, who attacked the bishop for his remarks, declined to comment.
Ibrahim Mogra, chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain's inter-faith committee, had also been critical of Dr Nazir-Ali, but he condemned the threats as "totally unacceptable".
He said. "We must not resort to intimidation just because we disagree with someone. It's against Islam, common decency and what our free society stands for."
While many of the bishop's colleagues have tried to distance themselves from his remarks, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt was alarmed by the threats. "I am extremely concerned for my friend and colleague," he said.
"There is no place for threats in our public life. Whatever anybody says in public life the response should be argument, not threat. That is the proper response and always has been in Christianity and within the law."
A spokesman for Dr Williams said: "This is totally wrong and utterly inappropriate."
Canon Tony Smith, the bishop's chaplain, said that messages of support sent to Dr Nazir-Ali following his article in The Sunday Telegraph had far outnumbered those disagreeing with him.
He said of the planned summit meeting: "We hope it will lead to better understanding and enable us to move forward together.
"It is an attempt by both sides to try and build bridges between the communities."
here is a choice quote from the article that pretty much sums up the situation:
"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 bishop said.
Click to view image: '148331-bishop.jpg'
Tags: islam, europe, muslims, eurabia, islamist, terrorism, sharia, law, death, threats, islamic, violence, iraq, afghanistan, pakistan, christian, bishop, nazir-ali, u.k, london, england,
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