A rise in Islamist extremism is creating "no-go areas" in Britain for non-Muslims, a senior Anglican bishop said in a newspaper article Sunday, warning the country's Christian status was at risk.
Michael Nazir-Ali, the Church of England's Bishop of Rochester in south-east England, wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that Britain's much-vaunted multi-cultural model had often created separate, deeply-divided communities.
"Alongside these developments, there has been a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism," said the Pakistan-born cleric, whose father converted to Catholicism from Islam.
"One of the results of this has been to further alienate the young from the nation in which they were growing up and also to turn already separate communities into 'no-go' areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability.
"Those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them. In many ways, this is but the other side of the coin to far-Right intimidation."
Nazir-Ali went on to criticise British attempts to accommodate the practices of other faiths, including the Muslim call to prayer and incorporating aspects of Sharia (Islamic) law into the country's civil code or banking system.
His comments are likely to fuel further discussion about the effects of immigration and Britain's tolerance of other cultures, which has been increasingly questioned by the country's mainly right-of-centre press.
Nazir-Ali said he feared that by not upholding Christianity as the British faith, a multifaith "mish mash" was being created that lacked the "underpinning of a moral and spiritual vision".
"(The) establishment of the Church of England is being eroded. My fear is, in the end, nothing will be left but the smile of the Cheshire Cat," he wrote.
"If it had not been for the black majority churches and the recent arrival of people from central and eastern Europe, the Christian cause in many of our cities would have looked a lost one."
The newspaper also noted a survey of the Church of England's "parliament" the General Synod suggesting 63 percent of senior clergy thought the Church could cease to be the preferred national religion within a generation.