Bishop Calls on Church to Engage with Muslims to Avoid Radicalism

A Bradford bishop has called on the Church of England to work together with Muslims in a bid to prevent the growth of radicalism among youngsters. The call comes after news that the suicide bombers in last week’s attacks on the London transport network were British citizens from West Yorkshire.

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David James, appealed to members of the Church during a General Synod debate on the Church’s role in multi-faith areas, saying that Muslims and Christians had to work to build up communities together.

According to Mr James, Islam in the West is facing a crisis in relation to its young, what he called a "time-bomb ticking away." He warned against younger members of the Muslim community who have become disenfranchised from mainstream mosques and are therefore more likely to turn to extremism.

Bishop James sympathised with young Muslims in Britain who are "caught between which culture they should embrace – whether they should retreat into a ghetto or succumb to Western culture or turn to radical fundamentalism."

Canon Bob Brooke, the Vicar of St David’s in Beeston, the Leeds suburb where the bombers had been living, was shocked to hear the bombers were from his community, saying, "There are issues, but they are about poverty and a lack of opportunity. There is no sign of militancy."

Meanwhile the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, called for even greater unity between faith communities in light of the bombings. Mr Packer attended Acts of Remembrance in Leeds along with leader of other face communities.

He said: "At this difficult time it is important that we stand together as a sign of our shared determination to oppose the use of terrorism and not to allow it to divide us. The faith communities in our city enjoy positive relationships at many levels and it is vital these are maintained.

"As we stand side by side, our prayers will be for the victims of the bombings, the bereaved and those who mourn, for the work of the emergency services, for peace and for an end to such acts of murder and terror."

In a report entitled Presence and Engagement presented to the General Synod by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, church members and leaders were warned to be careful about the tone of their language.