The Bishop of Oxford was sent a death threat calling for his beheading after backing a plan to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer.

The Rt Rev John Pritchard today told a meeting discussing the issue he had received a bundle of "extraordinary mail" containing a number of threats.

The Bishop gave his backing, in principle, for the call to prayer to be broadcast from the Oxford Central Mosque, in Manzil Way, East Oxford, in interviews with the Oxford Mail and local radio in January.

Speaking at a public meeting organised by the Anglo Asian Association in East Oxford at Oxford Community School, he said: "After the interview, I received extraordinary mail.

"One said, on a piece of A4, 'resign' six times in large font.

"One called on me to be beheaded and one said 'I wish I was closer so I could spit on you'. The dark underbelly of British society was coming out."

A spokesman for the Diocese of Oxford said the matter had not been taken to the police, and said the Bishop had received "a bulging post bag of comments, both positive and negative".

The Bishop spoke alongside Imam Monawar Hussain, of Eton College, and the Central Mosque's general secretary Altaf Hussain at the meeting.

Introducing the debate on the issue of sharia law and the call to prayer, co-chairman Martin Conway said: "We're not hear to come to any kind of decision, but we are here to learn to listen to one another.

"These things have caused a rumpus and people have not learned how to listen to each other."

The audience of about 60 people was told the call to prayer had not been officially requested and was not imminent. Co-chairman Saj Malik said: "They the mosque's committee have no mandate from the Muslim community to say these sort of things."

County and city councillor Craig Simmons said a condition of the mosque's construction was a ban on amplified calls to prayer. He said: "Planning permission would be needed to overturn this, which would involve a full consultation, and there has been no request submitted."

Mr Malik replied: "I think you have hit the nail on the head there."

Mr Hussain admitted the issue of the call to prayer had been badly managed by the mosque's interim committee.

He said: "It was basically a romantic idea from pure hearts. It was something that people wanted to share without any intentions of asserting a theology or culture on anyone.

"We're producing an information pack and a questionnaire for the neighbourhood. No steps will be taken without consulting them."