The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, who received death threats for airing his views on Islamic issues, has vowed that he will continue to speak out.
His claim that Islamic extremism has turned some parts of Britain into “no-go” areas for non-Muslims led to fierce rows between political and religious leaders over the impact of multiculturalism on this country.
Yet, in his first interview since the sinister calls were made to his home, the Bishop of Rochester remains steadfastly defiant. He will not be silenced. “I believe people should not be prevented from speaking out,” he says. “The issue had to be raised. There are times when Christian leaders have to speak out.”
He wishes the Church would be more vocal on issues of multiculturalism and sharia law. He agrees with Dr Williams in supporting the right of Muslims to observe their religious freedom, but is strongly opposed to any idea of Islamic law being recognised within the British legal system.
“People of every faith should be free within the law to follow what their spiritual leaders direct them to, but that’s very different from saying their structures should replace that of the English legal system because there would be huge conflicts.” In particular, he points to polygamy, women’s rights and freedom of belief as areas in sharia law that would undermine equality.
There is a danger that the archbishop’s remarks could become a reality unless Britain quickly regains a sense of its Christian heritage. “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?”