Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Bishop of Rochester on alienated Muslims...

That's Michael Nazir Ali, the Pakistani born Anglican Bishop of Rochester, England, in the Telegraph. Multiculturalism is to blame for perverting young Muslims.
So how does this dual psychology - of victimhood, but also the desire for domination - come to infect so many young Muslims in Britain? When I was here in the early 1970s, the practice of Islam was dominated by a kind of default Sufism or Islamic mysticism that was pietistic and apolitical. On my return in the late 1980s, the situation had changed radically. The change occurred because successive governments were unaware that the numerous mosques being established across the length and breadth of this country were being staffed, more and more, with clerics who belonged to various fundamentalist movements.
A very significant number of policies will have to be rethought. In this, the Government will need expert help. There must be greater encouragement for moderate Muslim voices to be heard more clearly. All religious leaders, representing any faith, wanting to work here, must be required to show that they are properly qualified, can speak English and are willing to undertake courses in adaptation to culture in this country: a number of suitable institutions offer such courses. Immigration policy should be shaped in such a way as to be able to discover whether potential immigrants have sympathy for characteristically British values and for the way of life here.

The cultural heritage of people who come here must be respected. They should be able to take pride in their language, literature, art and spiritual background. At the same time, if they are to adjust to life in this country, they should be prepared to live in mixed communities, and not on their own. Their children should attend school along with those who come from the host culture, or from other cultures and traditions. They should be willing to learn through the medium of English and to be socially mobile, rather than "ghetto-ised" on the basis of religion, language or culture.

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assiniboine said...

Did you check the reader-comments that followed Bishop Nazir-Ali's article? A knee-jerk reaction from a Muslim who objects to Nazr-Ali as a lapsed Muslim (actually he was 15 when he began worshipping in a Catholic Church and 20 when he chose formally to become an Anglican; whether this is grounds for condemnation of his expertise on Islam seems questionable to me); a fair amount of guff from evangelical Little Englanders; but mostly "hear hear" and why isn't he the Archbishop of Canterbury. Well, I think that Rowan Williams is a terrific +Cantuar, but much though I admire him, I thought at the time of the appointment that that Michael Nazir-Ali, whose career and published writings I had previously been following for some time with the greatest of delight, would have been a better choice. Curiously, it appeared that he may have been passed over (though he was a very credible contender and was spoken of in the same breath as Rowan Williams) by reason of his views on women clergy (in favour -- all very well) and openly gay clergy (not so keen -- more problemmatic, it seems). Other issues are coming to the fore, though, and he has been taking a fairly outspoken role in his capacity as a member of the British upper house of Parliament -- and attracting considerable media attention for his views as a result -- and it could very well be that things have turned out very well indeed vis-à-vis the episcopal appointments situation. (The Archbishop of York is a Ugandan lawyer, also disposed to frankness; this too appears to have been an inspired choice, though other issues pertain there). Mrs Nazir-Ali was Scottish; alas, she is dead -- it would have been interesting to hear her views on living in Pakistan when her husband was a bishop in Lahore and in mortal peril of assassination at the hands of the State, but as Bishop Nazir-Ali comes to increasing prominence no doubt the glossy magazines will inquire of the two adult Nazir-Ali sons.

assiniboine said...

Incidentally, you may not have caught Bishop Nazir-Ali's comments on 26.3.06 -- also in the Telegraph -- on Abdul Rahman, the Afghan accused of apostasy in Afghanistan: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/03/26/do2604.xml

assiniboine said...

The Times of London 17 April 1997
THE Bishop of Rochester was named yesterday as the Church of England's trendiest bishop after a survey revealed him as the only one who could name all five Spice Girls. He said he wanted the Church to have "street credibility".

The Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, who has two teenage sons, beat 31 other bishops in the trendiness stakes, as well as the Labour leader Tony Blair, who could name just three
of the group, and John Major, who knew two.

Runner-up in the hip parade was the Right Rev Lindsay Urwin, Bishop of Horsham, who could name four of the girls. He has used the hit songs One of Us, by Joan Osborne, and Search for the Hero, by M People, as sermon illustrations.

In the survey by The Church of England Newspaper, Bishop Nazir-Ali successfully named "Baby Spice" Emma Bunton, "Ginger Spice" Geri Halliwell, "Sporty Spice" Mel
Chisholm, "Posh Spice" Victoria Adams and "Scary Spice"

Unlike most other bishops, he also knew that Mulder and Scully were characters in the X-Files and that Phil de Glanville was the current English rugby captain. The Pakistani-born bishop, who became England's first Asian diocesan bishop when he was appointed to Rochester in 1994, last night credited his success to the influence of his sons, Shammy, 19, and Ross, 16. He said: "It is very important for the Church to keep in touch and have street credibility. It gives you a way of reaching across the divide, and there is a divide."

Bishop Nazir-Ali, whose interests include cricket, hockey, table tennis and Scrabble, also writes poetry in English and Persian. He said he was recognised in the street for days after a recent appearance on The Big Breakfast.

The product of an Oxbridge education and formerly secretary of the Church Missionary Society, who met his English wife, Valerie, daughter of a Post Office engineer, in church at Cambridge, he confessed that his preferred listening was Oasis, although he "quite liked" the Spice Girls.

"Of course, the original Spice Girls are in the Gospels," he said. "They are the women who took spices to the tomb of Christ and found it empty: the two Marys, Salome and


(Actually I wonder if it’s entirely correct to describe him as a convert from Islam. His father was Christian; his mother was Muslim. That being the case, by Islamic law he himself wasn’t Muslim at all. There are numerous online interviews with him through the BBC and he sounds decidedly Oxbridgean: very posh indeed.)

assiniboine said...

(I wonder if Ross and Shammy can speak Sindhi....)

Gashwin said...

Thanks for all that helpful info! Trendiest Bishop? Hmm ... I wonder what a similar contest involving US RC bishops would result in? One shudders ... :)

He really is a fascinating fellow ... as to his sons speaking Sindhi, I have no idea. If the Pakistani urban Christian community is like its Bombay Catholic counterpart, then they'd almost take pride in speaking the vernacular badly.

assiniboine said...

Do listen to the BBC interview.

Bishop Nazir-Ali has been a hero of mine for a long time -- alas, I rather suspect that that other +Michael, the immediate past primate of Canada, whom I took you to lunch with in Toronto, would be rather less enthusiastic. (On the other hand, he did evince vast amusement when I reported cringeing at the Gloria in Tamil.)

I more and more admire Michael Nazir-Ali and delight in the forthrightness with which he has seized the opportunity of Question Period in the House of Lords to articulate lots of home truths about the faith, the nation and the East and West. Some English people apparently consider him something of a self-promoter: well, they would say that, wouldn't they, and pooh on them, say I. Sometimes the poor old church gets it right and in +Cantuar, +Roffen and +Ebor, I think, it has done us very proud indeed.