- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In what is being called a victory for Islamism, the Anglican Church’s only ethnically Asian bishop is stepping down. The Right Reverend Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, bishop of Rochester, announced that he is retiring next September in order to work on behalf of “endangered or beleaguered Christian minorities.” Regrettably, his most important work defending Christianity will need to be inside the United Kingdom.

The bishop is a controversial figure in Britain. In January 2008, he published an article in The Sunday Telegraph stating that Islamic extremists had created “no-go areas” across Britain where non-Muslims entered at their peril. In calling attention to this danger, Dr. Nazir-Ali ran afoul of church orthodoxy. Dr. Rowan Williams, the liberal Archbishop of Canterbury, seeks wider dialogue and compromise with the Muslim community in Britain, and told the BBC that Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty.” He believes that the introduction of some aspects of shariah law “seems unavoidable” if social cohesion is to be maintained.

Such accommodations create legal sanctuaries for extremism, leading to increased segregation and lack of respect for the rights of the society as a whole. Dr. Williams’ views are symptomatic of the multiculturalist relativism of the 20th century that has disarmed the defenders of western civilization. Those who think that everything is up for discussion are powerless against those who define free speech as blasphemy. To wit, a 2005 study by the British-based group Christian Research estimated that the number of Muslims at British mosques will be double the number attending church by 2040.

Dr. Nazir-Ali is intimately familiar with religious discrimination. He was born in Pakistan, the son of a Muslim convert to Catholicism, in a country where converts are threatened with death and Christians are legally persecuted. Dr. Nazir-Ali served as Anglican Bishop of Raiwind, Pakistan, but had to flee for his life in 1986. Now the bishop is under police protection because some of the more fervid adherents of the “religion of peace” want to kill him. Dr. Nazir-Ali’s voice is important and necessary, and the Church of England’s loss may be western civilization’s gain. We trust that he will bring the same clarity, wit and courage to his new endeavors as he has as bishop. And we wish him good health in the face of those extremists who believe that their faith is best expressed through bombs, bullets and beheadings.


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