The former Bishop for Birmingham yesterday hit out at US President George Bush over his warning the West was at war with "Islamic fascists".

Dr John Sentamu, now Archbishop of York, said such comments - made by President Bush after the disclosure of the airline bomb plot - were unhelpful.

"I actually want to see this society becoming a good neighbourly place and you are not going to do it by that kind of language on the ranch in Texas," he said. "It doesn't really work because you are going to end up with people who may be innocent being branded extremists and enemies."

Dr Sentamu said he did not believe Islam was the cause of the attacks.

"I do not think the people doing this are doing it because of Islam," he said. "Most of them are doing it because they are alienated, they have been given a vision which they believe we can build a better world than exists."

The Archbishop was a leading member of the Birmingham Council of Faiths and worked tirelessly for interfaith relations and leading efforts to restore peace in Lozells after the riots.

He criticised Tony Blair for refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon. "I am one of those who believe the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan - when he said there should be an immediate ceasefire."