The Church of England […] claims that divisions between communities have been deepened by the Government’s “schizophrenic” approach to tackling multiculturalism. While trying to encourage interfaith relations, it has actually given “privileged attention” to the Islamic faith and Muslim communities.
Written by Guy Wilkinson, the interfaith adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the paper says that the Church of England has been sidelined. Instead, “preferential” treatment has been afforded to the Muslim community despite the fact that it makes up only three per cent of the population. Britain remains overwhelmingly a Christian country at heart and moves to label it as a multi-faith society suggest a hidden agenda, it says.
The leaked report follows a week of tension in which a Muslim policeman was excused armed guard duty at the Israeli embassy in London, Asian and white youths clashed in Windsor, and Jack Straw suggested that Muslim women should not wear the full veil across the face in public.
The report lists a number of moves made by the Government since the London bombings in July last year to win favour with Muslim communities. These include “using public funds” to fly Muslim scholars to Britain, shelving legislation on forced marriage and encouraging financial arrangements to comply with Islamic requirements.
[…] Insiders at the House of Bishops meeting last week, where the briefing paper was “well received”, say it marks a radical departure from the Church’s usually diplomatic relations with the Government on the multi-faith issue. One bishop said it was the first time the Church had launched such a defence of the country’s Christian heritage.
The 2001 census showed that 72 per cent of Britons describe themselves as Christian. “It could certainly be argued that there is an agenda behind a claim that a five per cent adherence to ‘other faiths’ makes for a multi-faith society,” says the document.