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Last Updated: Monday, 17 March 2008, 17:01 GMT
Bishop speaks of 'Christian UK'
Bishop of Rochester
The Bishop of Rochester spoke exclusively to BBC South East
An Anglican bishop who received threats after comments about Islamic extremism has spoken on the importance of the UK's Christian heritage.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, was threatened after claiming Islamic extremism made some places "no-go areas" for non-Muslims.

In an exclusive interview, he told BBC South East that Christianity "is the conscience of this nation".

Dr Nazir-Ali was born in Pakistan and has a Christian and Muslim background.

He said the Christian faith is part of the UK's history, but also "offers a critique of things done in this country".

"No one can read the history of this country and ignore the Christian faith," he added.

'Losing connection'

But he said that other faiths and nationalities could live side by side because of Christian tolerance.

Dr Nazir-Ali said he was concerned that people were losing their connection with Judeo-Christian traditions.

"This is the first time that the festival of Easter is being separated from the early spring holiday in schools, for example.

"There is a concern that if the great religious festivals get separated from the patterns of life for people that the Christian faith, as it informs society, will become more and more distant and its place in the whole fabric of relations will disappear.

"Easter is a festival that varies because of its ancient connection in Jewish Passover.

"That roots people in Judeo-Christian tradition which has provided this country with institutions, laws, customs and values and to lose that is to lose something valuable."

Scaremongering claims

The Bishop said in January that non-Muslims may find it hard to live or work in some areas of Britain.

After he made the claims, he said he received threats against himself and his family which were reported to Kent Police.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph on 6 January, Dr Nazir-Ali said there had been a worldwide resurgence of Islamic extremism, leading to young people growing up alienated from the country they lived in.

He said there was "hostility" in some areas and described the government's multicultural policies as divisive.

But he did not name any such areas and some Muslim leaders and politicians accused him of scaremongering.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Bishop gives first interview since receiving threats



SEE ALSO
Threats to 'no-go areas' bishop
02 Feb 08 |  England
Blears rejects 'no go' area claim
07 Jan 08 |  UK Politics

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