Another example of Christians using ‘Islam’ as a vehicle for their own anxieties

The Pope is an exponent of it. William Rees-Mogg dabbled in it.

Now Britain’s very own neocon cleric, Michael Nazir-Ali, has a go by coupling ‘Islam’ with his concern the Church is losing influence, socially and politically — such an approach, in what amounts to a polemic against a rival belief system, has guanrateed him plenty of coverage.

Nazir-Ali didn’t offer much in the way of evidence for the so-called ‘no-go’ areas that he claims exist in parts of Britain; even though it was an opinion piece, it should still have some factual basis. I suspect a lot of ‘no-go’ areas he is thinking of (or some of his supporters could name) are due to poverty, crime and drugs, rather than the creation of some Islamic mini-state complete with its own religious police and sharia courts. People will bring up anecdotal evidence (as they do on the comments to today’s Telegraph piece as well as Inayat Bunglawala’s response at the Guardian); but anecdotal evidence works both ways and excluding positive experiences for merely negative ones is merely wilful prejudice.

There’s also the usual sniping at ‘multiculturalism’, although (as ever) this remains undefined and only referred to as a ‘novel philosophy’ — the same novel philosophy that was the outcome of prejudices against people who looked a lot like Nazir-Ali. I do, however, agree with Nazir-Ali’s comments regarding the importance of English as a means of communication, as well as the need to tackle the housing problem in the country, even if the overall emphasis of his piece seems to be lay the problem at the feet of immigrants (or ‘Muslims’) — such a proposition is not helpful because the problems and solutions are more widespread than a couple of mosques deciding to apply for permission to make public the azan. And, as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown reminds us, the bishop has chosen to remain silent about ‘no-go’ areas for non-whites.

Unsurprisingly, the bigotsphere and the BNP have jumped on the Bishop’s comments as vindication of their own bile against Muslims, immigrants etc. I wonder how Nazir-Ali would respond if he was presented with some of the views his comments are being used to champion?

“Islam” As A Vehicle For Christian Anxiety In Europe
A Very Brief Defence of Multiculturalism

Update: Here are some responses by bloggers to Nazir-Ali’s piece:
Why Rochester is not a no-go area for Michael Nazir-Ali — Indigo Jo
Michael Nazir-Ali’s “no go” areas — Rolled-up Trousers
Don’t even think about it, say no go — Chicken Yoghurt


1 Response to “Another example of Christians using ‘Islam’ as a vehicle for their own anxieties”

  1. 1 Bishop makes controversial remarks, receives death threats « pixelisation Trackback on March 11, 2008 at 4:45 pm

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