The Bishop of Rochester on converts

19 September 2007

by Rachel Harden

The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said this week that he had met many converts to Christianity from Islam, both in the UK and abroad, who had been persecuted for their change of belief.

On Monday night, Dr Nazir-Ali said in the Dispatches programme that people could die unless Muslim leaders defended the right to change faith. He was looking for Muslim leaders in Britain to “uphold basic civil liberties, including the right of people to believe what they wish to believe, and to even change their beliefs if they wish to do so”.

Speaking on Tuesday, Dr Nazir- Ali said that the Church in Britain also needed to support converts, who might feel under pressure. “We need to be concerned that, in this country, people’s freedom to believe is being constrained.”

The programme featured a Christian family from Bradford who had suffered abuse and violence, after converting from Islam ten years ago. Dr Nazir-Ali said he had met the father of the family, a nurse, and was fully aware of the situation.

The Barnabas Fund, an international campaigning group for persecuted Christians, said on Tuesday that it hoped Dispatches and Dr Nazir-Ali’s comments would lead to political and religious leaders’ taking the question more seriously.

“It is hoped this greater media coverage will lead both the Government and Muslim leaders to take seriously the extreme difficulties often faced by converts from Islam.”

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