THE BISHOP of Oxford has rejected another senior clergyman's fears that piping out the call to prayer in East Oxford could create a "no-go area" for non-Muslims.

The Rt Rev John Pritchard backed plans for the call to prayer in Oxford - rejecting controversial comments made by the Anglican church's only Asian bishop, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, of Rochester.

Bishop Michael had said that attempts were being made to impose an "Islamic character" on communities, creating "no-go areas" where people of different faiths would find it hard to live and work.

But Bishop John said: "I want to distance myself from what the Bishop of Rochester has said.

"I have been with the House of Bishops for the past three days and we agreed there are no no-go areas in this country that we are aware of, and that in all parts of the country there are good inter-faith relationships developing."

In November, it emerged that leaders at Oxford's Central Mosque, in Manzil Way, were considering asking for planning permission to issue the call to prayer from the mosque - and Bishop John said he was "very happy" with the move.

He said: "I believe we have good relationships with the Muslim community here in Oxford and I am personally very happy for the mosque to call the faithful to prayer in East Oxford.

"Faith is a very important factor in the lives of 80 per cent of the world's population and a public expression of that faith is both natural and reasonable."

Bishop John said practical issues over the number of times the call went out, the volume and whether a trial period would be required would need to be ironed out, but said in principle it was "entirely reasonable".

He said: "It is good that we should be reminded of the faithfulness of many members of the community.

"It is natural that Muslim communities will gather in a particular area and what matters is that we demonstrate the kind of respect that is the basis of any civilised society."

Bishop John added: "I would say to anyone who has concerns about the call to prayer to relax and enjoy our community diversity and be as respectful to others as you would hope they would be respectful to you."

Bishop John said his role meant he acted as a community leader for all faiths, and believed he was respected as such by the Muslim community as by his own.

He added that it was his duty to open the door for all faiths to be part of the public arena. He continued: "I sympathise with those who find any kind of expression of public faith intrusive, but I think part of being part of a tolerant society is saying, 'I don't agree with this but I accept it as part of my responsibility as being part of a diverse community'."

Bishop Michael wrote in the Sunday Telegraph this weekend that non-Muslims faced a hostile relationship in places dominated by the ideology of Islamic radicals.

He argued: "Attempts have been made to impose an 'Islamic' character on certain areas, for example, by insisting on artificial amplification for Adhan.

"Such amplification was, of course, unknown throughout most of history and its use raises all sorts of questions about noise levels and whether non-Muslims wish to be told the creed of a particular faith five times a day on the loudspeaker."

He added: "There has been a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism.

"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."

Sardar Rana, a spokesman for Oxford Central Mosque, has also attacked Bishop Michael's claims, and said the bishop should be more "broad-minded".

He said: "It will not create a no-go area. We welcome every religion and we respect other people.

"I am 100 per cent sure people will like it when they hear the holy verses on the loudspeaker. We are not saying anything bad."