The Bishop of Oxford has supported plans to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer over part of the historic city.
Welcoming proposals from Oxford's Central Mosque to sound the call three times a day over East Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard said those opposed to the plan should "relax" and "enjoy community diversity".
The bishop also rejected claims by the Anglican Church's only Asian bishop that sounding the call in Britain represented an attempt to "impose an Islamic character" on some areas.
Hmm. Whether or not Muslims are attempting to impose an Islamic character on certain areas (and I for one think that they are), it is difficult to see how the sound of the Adhan blaring over an area three times a day, summoning forth multitudes of long-bearded men in Islamic garb, could fail to give such a character to any area unfortunate enough to have to put up with it.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester sparked fierce debate when he criticised the amplified prayer call and suggested that some parts of the country were now too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. Bishop Pritchard 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."
Dozens of East Oxford residents have urged the council to reject the plan by mosque leaders to issue the two-minute call to prayer up to three times a day.
They fear that it will turn the area into a "Muslim ghetto". However, Bishop Pritchard said he was "very happy" with the move.
You do have to wonder about these Christian clergy, such as Pritchard, or the Rev Canon Chris Chivers (who, as some readers may recall, wrote about the gratitude he felt to his "Muslim sisters and brothers for Ramadan"), who seem to regard the growing presence and strength of the Islamic religion as something to be celebrated as an improvement rather than feared and resisted as the greatest threat this country has ever faced. Do they honestly believe that, because once or twice a year they attend an inter-faith meeting, where they smile at an imam and utter platitudes, and he smiles back and utters platitudes, that life in a putative future Islamic Britain would be just fine for Christians (or for any other non-Muslims, for that matter)? Apparently so. And, presumably, they also believe that Christians in existing Islamic states are treated fairly, and that the sound of church bells ringing out over Riyadh or Mecca would be welcomed by delighted Saudi imams as "enjoyable community diversity"?