Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mohammedan 'call to prayer' in Oxford?

Back at the beginning of Epiphanytide, Melancholicus posted on the bishop of Rochester, Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, in support of the bishop’s argument that Mohammedans in Britain banding themselves together in separate communities distinct from the population at large is creating no-go areas for non-Muslims in certain parts of the country.

The various organs of British political correctness reacted to Dr. Nazir-Ali’s article in predictable fashion, battening down the hatches and distancing themselves as much as possible from such incorrect views. As might have been expected, the bishops of the Church of England neither supported nor defended their colleague, but recoiled in horror as though he were a particularly virulent and deadly strain of virus.

One prelate, however, the Right Rev. John Pritchard, bishop of Oxford (pictured left), has actually gone as far as to welcome and support a Mohammedan drive to issue the ‘call to prayer’ from loudspeakers in his diocese. This bishop of a Christian church has taken appeasement of these people to a whole new level. Doubtless the fellow thinks he’s being charitable, magnanimous and ecumenical; to the the Mohammedans, however, this is just one more example of the ongoing weakness and apostasy of Christians in the west, and Rev. Pritchard’s gesture will earn him not their gratitude but their contempt.

From the Oxford Mail:

Bishop backs Muslim prayer call

By Fran Bardsley

The Bishop of Oxford has rejected another senior clergyman's fears that broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer in East Oxford could create a "no-go area" for non-Muslims.

The Rt Rev John Pritchard backed plans for the call to prayer in Oxford - splitting away from controversial comments made by the Anglican Church's only Asian Bishop, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, of Rochester.

Bishop Michael said attempts were being made to impose an "Islamic character" on communities, creating no-go areas where people of different faiths would find it hard to live and work.

But Bishop John said: "I want to distance myself from what the Bishop of Rochester has said.

"There are no no-go areas in this country that we are aware of and in all parts of the country there are good interfaith relationships developing."

Leaders at Oxford's Central Mosque, in Manzil Way, are considering asking for planning permission to issue the call to prayer from the mosque - and Bishop John said he was "very happy" with the move.

He said: "I believe we have good relationships with the Muslim community here in Oxford and I am personally very happy for the mosque to call the faithful to prayer in East Oxford.

"Faith is a very important factor in the lives of 80 per cent of the world's population and a public expression of that faith is both natural and reasonable."

Bishop John said practical issues over the number of times the call went out, the volume and whether a trial period would be required would need to be ironed out but said in principle it was "entirely reasonable".

He said: "I would say to anyone who has concerns about the call to prayer to relax and enjoy our community diversity and be as respectful to others as you would hope they would be respectful to you."

He added: "I sympathise with those who find any kind of expression of public faith intrusive, but I think part of being part of a tolerant society is saying, 'I don't agree with this but I accept it as part of my responsibility as being part of a diverse community'."

Bishop Michael told the Sunday Telegraph that non-Muslims faced a hostile relationship in places dominated by the ideology of Islamic radicals.

He used the amplification of the call to prayer as an example of how an Islamic character was being imposed on certain areas and said this resulted in alienating young non-Muslims.

An application for planning permission for the call to prayer at Oxford's Central Mosque has not yet been submitted.

Sardar Rana, a spokesman for the mosque, said he was "100 per cent sure" people would like the call to prayer when they heard it.

100% sure, eh? Would Sardar care to put any money on that? Melancholicus would be quite happy to oppose him in a wager.

The article has been online for less than a week, but has already attracted over 200 comments. From a perusal of some of them it appears that the good people of Oxford are distinctly less enthusiastic than their bishop about transforming Oxford into the city of dreaming minarets.

Come back Richard Harries, all is forgiven!

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