Page last updated at 21:01 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 22:01 UK

Islam row bishop 'has no regrets'

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali
The Bishop of Rochester will retire in September after 15 years in the post

A leading Church of England bishop who is to resign after 15 years in the post said he has no regrets about controversial statements he has made.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, said his decision to resign was a spiritual one.

The Church's first non-white diocesan bishop is set to retire in September.

Last year, he received death threats after saying some areas of the UK had become no-go areas for non-Muslims because of Islamic extremism.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Mr Nazir-Ali said he had no regrets about anything he has said in the past.

The bishop, who turns 60 in August, said he still stood by his claims made earlier in his career that "extreme forces" presented a grave threat to Britain's way of life and culture.

Dr Nazir-Ali said the reason he decided to resign was because of a message from God which said it was time to do "something else".

'Self-indulgent'

The bishop added that his Easter message, which would focus on the recession and its effect on economically hard-hit Britain, would say there was "another way" for people to live that did not involve having lots of money.

Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester

Dr Nazir-Ali is no stranger to controversy

No stranger to controversy, Dr Nazir-Ali has said that married couples had a duty to have children and those who remained childless were "self-indulgent".

Earlier this year he expressed his fears that the massive Thames Gateway development, which encompasses his cathedral, risked creating "alienated" communities.

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

A former practising Catholic, he was the first non-white senior bishop in the Church of England when he was appointed the 106th Bishop of Rochester in 1994.

His last service will be held at Rochester Cathedral on 12 September.



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