Religion news 16 March 2022

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Image credit: Mirek Pruchnicki CCLicense2.0

Ukraine headlines

Kyiv under 36 hour curfew as shelling continues to destroy residential properties;  More than 3 million have fled including 20,000 from besieged city Mariupol, but hundreds remain trapped in basements; Slovenian, Polish and Czech prime ministers met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv; Zelenskiy acknowledges Ukraine will not join NATO; Daily Mail is warned of  ‘complete catastrophe’ at the Chernobyl nuclear site as staff are held hostage;  Two Fox News journalists – producer Oleksandra Kuvshynova and cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski – killed in an attack outside Kyiv;  Russian TV Channel 1 news editor, Marina Ovsyannikova, fined and released after protesting against war on live TV news programme.

UK public open homes to Ukraine refugees

120,000 people in the UK have signed up to a government website promising to house Ukrainian refugees. The number was achieved in the first 36 hours of  operation.

In a parallel move, Krish Kandiah, head of the Sanctuary Foundation,  is encouraging UK businesses, churches and individuals to sponsor Ukrainian refugees coming to the UK.  This evening (Wednesday), Sanctuary Foundation, Reset Communities and Refugees, and Refugee Education UK are hosting an online event  to give information on how the process works.

The Church of England has published a toolkit of resources for parishes seeking to help refugees and evacuees from Ukraine.  It contains information on how parishes and individuals can take action to support people arriving through the family visa scheme and the humanitarian sponsor scheme.

Churches in England appeal for end to war

Presidents of Churches Together in England, representing 52 churches, Christian organisations and ecumenical groups,  have issued a statement calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of invading forces and the observance of the Geneva Conventions in Ukraine. Speaking at their annual conference at The Hayes, Swanwick, they also commended countries neighbouring Ukraine in receiving refugees from the war and called on the UK and the whole of Europe to follow their example.  

Once flourishing Jewish community disperses

With up to 400,000 Jewish residents, Ukraine is home to the world’s fifth-largest Jewish community, but thousands are fleeing the country. Read our factsheet for the history of this once flourishing community, its response to the invasion and how Jewish organisations from around the world have engaged in humanitarian efforts.

Senior Ukraine leaders call for more weapons and aid for Ukraine

Two senior leaders of the Ukrainian Catholic church in the States have appealed for more weapons and aid for Ukraine. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia, Borys Gudziak, and Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, told a news conference in Washington that there is a dire need for armoured ambulances, medical supplies and food — but also arms. The Associated Press reports that the ambassador also called for more sanctions against Moscow and increased aid and diplomatic efforts to keep humanitarian corridors open, accusing Russian forces of committing genocide.

Salvation Army on another front line

The Salvation Army is working in Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Greece, Hungary, France and many other countries, offering practical help to refugees. They offer food and water, medication, shelter, translation and transport.

Jewish philanthropists added to sanctions list

Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and German Khan, co-founders of the Genesis Philanthropy Group which aims to “create a more diverse and connected global Jewish community”, have been named in a new sanctions list. They are among 370 people from Russia and Belarus sanctioned for alleged links to Vladimir Putin. Jewish News story here

Other news

Indian court upholds hijab ban

An Indian court has upheld a ban on students wearing the hijab in a decision which has provoked anger among the country’s Muslim population. The ruling follows a decision by a school forbidding students wearing hijabs from entering classrooms in January. The court, in the southern state of Karnataka, which is ruled by India’s governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and home to 8 million Muslims, said the hijab was not essential religious practice. Muslims responded with fury saying it was not the responsibility of Hindu legislators to decide the rules of Islam.

International Day to combat Islamophobia set for 15 March

The United Nations General Assembly has set 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The resolution, co-sponsored by 55 mainly Muslim countries, expresses concern at the rise in discrimination, intolerance and violence against people motivated by Islamophobia, antisemitism, ‘Christianophobia’ and other prejudices. The resolution asks all countries and organisations to organise and support events increasing awareness about curbing Islamophobia. The resolution was passed yesterday – 15 March.

Jewish festival of Purim is today

The Jewish festival of Purim is celebrated today, a joyous event marking the story of Esther, who foiled a plot to kill the Jews in around 480BCE. Parties with fancy dress and festival meals with alcohol are planned each year. Gifts of food parcels and collections for people in need are customary. And in synagogues, the story of Esther is read. Find out more on our fact sheet here

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