Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has arrived in Australia to begin a speaking tour of all mainland capitals on the theme, “Courage in a hostile world”.

Bishop Nazir-Ali is deeply concerned about the crisis in his native Pakistan – currently suffering the worst floods in living memory, amid political and religious turmoil.

In an article in The Guardian (UK) last week, the bishop urged the world not to shun Pakistan. He said: “Surveys show that over 90% of Pakistanis believe that religious extremism is the greatest single threat to the country. As someone said to me recently: It seems that an extremist 3% are holding the other 97% to ransom.”

Bishop Nazir-Ali was born into a Muslim family but became a Christian at the age of 15 – at the same time his father did. They were forced to move to the UK after assaults and death threats.

Bishop Nazir-Ali is a former senior member of the UK House of Lords, and was one of the final two candidates for Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002. He stepped down from his diocesan and parliamentary responsibilities last year in order to minister to the wider world – especially persecuted minorities in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

He told The Guardian: “Pakistan will be a litmus test as to whether the international community and the Muslim world can halt the advance of extremist ideologies based on religion. It is vital for us to co-operate with those in Pakistan and elsewhere who have similar aims. The world needs a stable, strong and moderate Pakistan, and so do its own citizens.”

Dr David Phillips, national president of FamilyVoice Australia which is sponsoring the bishop’s visit, said 2000 people across Australia have already booked to hear him at seminars, lectures and public forums over the next 10 days.

“Bishop Nazir-Ali has worked closely with Muslim scholars in Egypt to find a way through current tensions without compromising the truth,” Dr Phillips said. “He has studied sharia law for over 30 years, and has a wealth of personal experience of living under both moderate and extremist Islam.”

For more information about his public meetings click here or phone FamilyVoice Australia on 1300 365 965

Also to read an article by Bishop Nazir-Ali in The Australian entitled ‘Radical Islamism challenges notions of freedom’ please click here.