Bradford community leaders have accused an Anglican Bishop of "scaremongering" after he claimed certain areas across the UK had become no-go areas for non-Muslims.

Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan, said attempts were being made by Islamic extremists to give Britain an increasingly Islamic character.

He cited widespread immigration as a key factor. He said: "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."

President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Bradford, Dr Abdul Bary Malik, said he did not know what the Bishop was trying to achieve with such "scaremongering".

Dr Malik said: "Firstly I do not think there are so called no-go areas in this country. There is segregation unfortunately, which is a worrying trend but the language he has used is inflammatory.

"Bishop Nazir-Ali comes from Pakistan so he should understand Islamic culture better than anyone.

"At this time, New Year, when we are trying to spread a message of peace and love, a message like this from a person of this calibre is not helping.

"I agree with some of what he is saying. Some communities have segregated themselves but I do not understand what he is trying to achieve by this. Such language creates a climate of fear."

Ishtiaq Ahmed, spokesman for the Bradford Council of Mosques, said Bishop Nazir Ali's comments undermined the good work being done in the city. He said: "We were very surprised to hear Nasir Ali's comments, they certainly do not relate to the situation here in Bradford.

"We feel that a person in his position should be more careful in what he says. Many people in the Muslim community will see him as stirring things up."

The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend David James, said: "I was dismayed to read the inflammatory headline in a Sunday newspaper claiming that Islamic extremists have created no go areas across Britain where it is too dangerous for non Muslims to enter'. We certainly do not recognise this supposed reality in Bradford.

"Of course, we are aware that there are difficulties arising from a significant measure of residential and cultural separation across communities, especially in the inner city. However, this has generated a range of imaginative initiatives such as the nationally-recognised Linking Schools Project, and the University's Programme for a Peaceful City - to name but a few."

Councillor Michael Smith, Bradford Council's executive member for community safety, said he was very disappointed to hear about Bishop Ali's comments.

He said: "They may be more appropriate for the area in which the Bishop lives but we are an enlightened area and have good cohesion."

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