Britain's Oldest Christian Bookshops Remove Koran from Shelves

Britain's oldest chain of Christian bookstores, SPCK Bookshops has announced it is to stop selling the Koran as it is "inimical" to Christianity, the Sunday Times has reported.

|PIC1|The bookshop, which was established formerly as part of the 308-year-old Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, has made the decision to stop selling all books which are non-Christian.

The rethink in policy follows the society's sale of a majority stake to the St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust, in November 2006.

St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust is linked to the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Mark Brewer, the Texan lawyer who chairs the trust said, "Stocking books which are inimical to Christianity, which without question the Koran is, could well create the wrong impression among some that we endorse the belief systems of other religions as equal or viable alternatives," according to the Sunday Times.

The trust will aim to bring about a return to the missionary roots of SPCK, and hopes to reverse the advance of Islam and secularism. However, it is believed that the move will offend a number within the Church of England who are working towards an easing of relationships with Muslim leaders.

However, the move seems to follow calls by the second-most senior clergyman in the Church of England, Archbishop of York, Rev Dr John Sentamu, and the Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester to recover Christian values.

The trust says on its website that Britain has become "secularised in recent years and witnessed an explosion of Islam". The site added that it intends to "re- establish Christianity in areas where it has been driven out".

The organisation has also claimed, according to the Sunday Times, that England was an Orthodox country before the Norman invasion in 1066, and now plans to take over unused Church of England buildings to promote Orthodoxy across Britain.

The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, however, remains tightly linked to the Church of England and has kept a minority stake in the bookshops and two Anglicans sit on the board, one of whom has already stated his disagreement with the decision of SPCK.

Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester, said: "If I were in charge I would not have issued this instruction".

Ibrahim Mogra, chair of the inter-faith committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "Islam is currently under the spotlight. It is misunderstood and has been abused by some who have carried out violence in its name. Now is the time for people to have access to the Koran and the writings of Islam. This will help people understand the faith and what makes Muslims tick," according to the Sunday Times.