Religion news 18 June 2024

Eid al Adha, Norbury. Image credit @Cllr_Alisa

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid-al-Adha

Millions of Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, the “Festival of the Sacrifice”. It’s the second and larger of the two annual Eid’s and coincides with the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. The three-day celebration is marked with prayers, feasts and the ritual slaughter of an animal – with the meat then evenly distributed to family, friends, neighbours and the poor and needy. It is one of the most important Islamic holidays and commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God’s command. Much of Asia, including India and Bangladesh, observed Eid al-Adha yesterday, while Muslims in other parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt celebrated the holiday on Sunday.  ITV Meridian reported on celebrations at the Ahmadiyya mosque near Farnham in Surrey yesterday, by hundreds of families who came together for prayer and celebration.

Sandford St Martin Trust awards creators of top religious programmes

The Sandford St Martin Trust has presented awards honouring excellence in religious and ethical broadcasting, at its annual ceremony in London. The Journalism Award went a BBC 4 programme  “In the Name of the Father”, about a Hasidic community in Israel divided over the will of its charismatic leader based in Brooklyn.  The Young Audience award went to a CBBC programme “My Life: I Won’t Stand For It”, on a 15-year-old indigenous activist from Winnipeg, Canada, who stood up for their rights. The radio / audio award went to a Sunday worship programme on BBC Radio 4 “The Indestructibility of Hope – Wartime Christmas in Ukraine”, including poems and readings on life in a war zone. The TV / Video award went to “A Time to Die, a True Vision production for ITV, telling the story of five people who want to choose when they die. The Radio Times readers’ award went to “The Holy Land and Us – Our Untold Stories”, where Rob Rinder and Sarah Agha explored how their family’s histories were changed by the 1948 founding of the state of Israel. The Trustees’ award went to historian Tom Holland, in recognition of his contribution to the public understanding of religion and its role in contemporary and historical human experience.

Archbishop calls for immediate end to war in Sudan

The Archbishop of Canterbury is calling on countries which supply arms to both sides in the Sudan civil war to stop now and support peace. The conflict between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, has resulted in 11 million people being forced from their homes with an estimated 14,000 deaths, according to the UN. Justin Welby has issued a statement saying: “I call on the countries supporting this destruction through weapons and financing to stop and channel their resources instead towards negotiations for peace”. The head of the US Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, said “the most worrying scenario would be that Sudan would become the deadliest famine since Ethiopia in the early 1980s”. The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas Greenfield, also told reporters at the weekend that she had seen mortality projections for Sudan “in excess of 2.5 million people, about 15 per cent of the population in Darfur and Kordofan” by September this year. Both Iran and the United Arab Emirates have been accused of breaking a UN arms embargo by supplying drones to the warring sides. Archbishop Welby said: “It is unconscionable that such immense suffering is allowed to continue, forgotten by most of the world.”

Top five concerns for Catholic Union in the general election

The Catholic Union has published an election guide ahead of the General Election containing some suggested questions for candidates based on the results of a survey. It indicated that the top five issues of greatest concern to Catholics were care for the vulnerable, religious freedom, family life, education and the dignity of life.  The survey also found that more than 90 per cent of Catholic Union members and supporters were planning to vote in the election – significantly higher than the national average. It also revealed a strong link between politics and religion, with 92 per cent of people saying that their faith and the teachings of the Catholic Church “help to influence” how they vote.  The Catholic Union Interim Director, Tristan Feunteun, said for the 4.5 million Catholics in Britain, the election is an opportunity to elect people who recognise the importance of faith to society and work towards the common good. 

Humza Yousaf says anti Muslim sentiment is mainstream

The former first minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National party, Humza Yousaf, has claimed that anti-Muslim sentiment is so mainstreamed now that politicians like Suella Braverman barely bother disguising it. In an opinion piece in the Guardian, he says that with almost half the world’s population taking part in elections this year in a number of countries, particularly across Europe, the biggest gains have been made by those who make a living out of vilifying Muslims. He is highly critical of the Reform Party’s Nigel Farage and his history of making Islamophobic remarks. During this campaign, he said that Muslims do not share British values, and in 2015, he said that people had fears of Muslims as a “fifth column”. Mr Yousaf said that it was not too late for politicians of all parties to confront and face down the anti-Muslim hatred which he claims is rampant in our political discourse. He says that the real danger “is that by appeasing the far right, we also risk emboldening IS-inspired extremists too. If we allow this to happen, the consequences could be devastating”.

Campaigner urges religious orders in Ireland to settle abuse claims

An institutional abuse campaigner from Belfast has given the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland a copy of her book in the hope it will encourage him to put pressure on religious orders that have not contributed to compensation for survivors of historical sexual abuse to do so. Margaret McGuckinm released her memoir “I Did This For You” last summer and presented the book to Archbishop Eamon Martin, so that he could know the fight and the struggle families had with religious orders and civic leaders in getting things done.  She dedicated the book to children all over the world who are currently in care systems, and to her brother Kevin, who experienced such horrific sexual abuse as a ward of the state that he was left with serious physical and mental health problems and passed away on June 7 last year.  She stressed that two Catholic orders, the Sisters of Nazareth nuns and the De La Salle Brothers, have still have not contributed to the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board, which was recommended by the HIA Inquiry nearly eight years ago. They explain that work with the redress scheme is an ongoing process.

Southern Baptist votes on women’s equality show “nothing has changed”

 An article in “The Conversation” throws the spotlight on the Southern  Baptists in the USA where their recent annual Convention saw a number of motions related to women. It rejected a proposal that would explicitly state that only men could be pastors. Professor Susan Shaw, a gender and sexuality studies scholar who has written about Southern Baptist women, reviewed the votes and other developments in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination and concluded that nothing had changed.

Indian national extradited to the US denies plotting to kill Sikh separatist

A 53-year-old Indian national who was extradited to the United States from the Czech Republic, has pleaded not guilty to involvement in an alleged plot to kill a Sikh separatist leader on US soil. Nikhil Gupta was detained at Prague airport in June 2023 on a US warrant and arrived in the United States on Friday.  Gupta appeared before a federal magistrate judge in New York yesterday and pleaded not guilty to charges of murder-for-hire. The Justice Department unsealed the charges against Gupta in November, accusing him of conspiring with an unidentified Indian government official to kill a US citizen of Indian origin in New York City. The alleged target of the plot was Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a US and Canadian citizen who is affiliated with a New York-based group called Sikhs for Justice that advocates for the secession of Punjab, the northern Indian state with a large Sikh population. Canada and India had a diplomatic row last year after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau linked New Delhi to the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, also a Sikh separatist. US intelligence agencies have assessed that the plot on American soil was approved by India’s top spy official at the time, Samant Goel, The Washington Post reported in April. India has denied involvement in the murder plots and says it will carry out an investigation into the allegations.

TV presenter Dan Walker missed out on top jobs because he refused to work on Sundays

The Channel 5 news presenter Dan Walker says he’s missed out on some amazing jobs hosting sport and other events, because of his Christian beliefs. The ex-BBC Breakfast and Football Focus presenter has been speaking about his faith and his decision not to work on Sundays, devoting the day instead to his faith and family. In an interview with the magazine Sorted, with extracts quoted in the Daily Mirror. He said: “As a 12-year-old I realised I needed help. I couldn’t do things on my own. And there was a guy speaking in church that night about Jesus Christ and what it meant to be Christian. That was the clincher for me. The next day I was probably still a very annoying 12-year-old. But I think I’ve tried to live in the light of that ever since”.


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