"One of the traits of the Muslim community in Britain is that it does cluster, very much as you would have, I think, in Dearborn, Mich.," he said in an interview Monday. "I’ve witnessed cases [of persecution] in the Pakistani community, and it especially falls upon Muslim background converts."
Bishop Angaelos, a native of Cairo who will be conferred the honor of Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to international religious freedom, believes the problem is getting worse "in some areas." Of particular concern are sections of England where there is "clustering" of Islamic immigrants "and it becomes much more introspective, much more exclusive, and it becomes a community within a community, which is kind of destructive. These communities become separate unto themselves and they don’t have much interaction with the wider community, and I think that’s damaging for them and the wider community."
Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, has said written that conversion from Islam is a phenomenon that especially raises the ire of some Muslims. "In every branch of Islamic law [it is] punished by death, certainly for males, and usually for females," Chowdhry says. "Some experts suggest that about a third of so-called ‘honour-killings’ in the UK are the killing of relatives who have converted from Islam, nearly always to Christianity."
Chowdhry says the problem is so bad that some Christian groups have felt the need to set up networks of safehouses for such converts, or those fleeing from forced marriages. His organization is raising money for such safehouses.
Says Chowdhry, "Speaking out is a must, and not being cowed by a culture dominated by a cultural and moral relativism that would rather cling to conformist factoids to than to confront hard facts."
John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition.