Friday, October 16, 2009

A Discussion of Islam and Western Culture

[The Institute on Religion & Democracy] 16 Oct 2009--The Rt. Reverend Michael James Nazir-Ali, the 106th Bishop of Rochester, spoke at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC on Tuesday, October 13, 2009. The discussion with Bishop Nazir-Ali, “Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Other Sharia laws in the Modern World,” was part of the Hudson Institute’s fall series, Lifting the Theocratic Iron Curtain: Examining the Application of Muslim Blasphemy and Apostasy Rules in the Contemporary World. And who better to speak about the dangerous situation of a largely secular, indiscriminately multicultural western world confronted with by Islam, a system of belief that exploits multiculturalism while having nothing but contempt for the concept, than the man who has earned the title of “most courageous man in Britain,” for his willingness to speak out about the threat of radical Islam?

Bishop Nazir-Ali was born in Pakistan to a family that had converted from Islam. He was educated at the University of Karachi; Ridley Hall Theological College and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University; St. Edmund Hall College, Oxford; as well as doing further study at the Australian College of Theology and Harvard Divinity School. Nazir-Ali was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1976, worked in Karachi and Lahore, and then was consecrated Bishop of Raiwind Diocese in West Punjab. At the time he was the youngest bishop in the Anglican Communion.

When his life was threatened by radical elements in Pakistan, then Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie brought him to England. He served as the Assistant to the Archbishop, and then as the General Secretary of the Church Mission Society. In 1994 he became the first non-white diocesan bishop in the Church of England when he was consecrated as the Bishop of Rochester. He was also the first Asian religious leader to serve as a member of the House of Lords. On September 1, 2009, Bishop Nazir-Ali, who describes himself as “evangelical and catholic,” resigned his Bishopric to devote his time to advocacy for the persecuted church around the world.

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