Religion news 18 November

Image credit: The Mustard Seed

£1.8m to help build tolerant society

The government is giving £1.8m to nine projects tackling faith, race and hate crime, whose aim is to build a diverse and tolerant society for social cohesion. The faith minister Lord Greenhalgh announced the list which includes the Anne Frank Trust UK, the English Football League Trust, Newcastle United and the Faith and Belief Forum. They are running activities such as school workshops to counter antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, bringing families from diverse backgrounds together over football and fostering collaboration between faiths delivering social action projects. Lord Greenhalgh said: “We stand full square in support of all communities that suffer from prejudice and discrimination and we must build a shared future in this country. The pandemic has hit faith communities hard with the closure of communal worship during the two lockdowns. This funding is part of our comprehensive support for them. Our faith communities instinctively love their neighbours.”

Jewish Labour Movement criticises Jeremy Corbyn’s reinstatement

Jeremy Corbyn has been readmitted to the Labour Party, after a three-week suspension for saying the scale of antisemitism in the party had been “overstated”. At issue was his response to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission report, which said the party had breached the law in three ways over its handling of antisemitism. In a statement published just before the NEC met to consider his case, Corbyn did not apologise for his earlier remarks, but said he regretted the pain caused to the Jewish community. He clarified that concerns about antisemitism were neither exaggerated nor “overstated, but the point he wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to antisemitism. His re-instatement has not drawn a line under the matter, with an angry response and talk of betrayal. The Jewish Labour Movement said Corbyn’s statement was “insincere and wholly inadequate” and offered no apology for the failings identified in the EHRC report.

Anti-Jewish racism replacing antisemitism

The Jewish News has reported on the increasing use of the phrase “anti-Jewish racism” instead of “antisemitism”. It says the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Holocaust Educational Trust have all used this phrase. The Jewish Leadership council said it was using this language because focus groups showed little understanding of the meaning of antisemitism.

Appeal to Biden to protect Muslims at home and abroad

A leading American Muslim scholar has set out the actions Joe Biden needs to take to address the concerns of Muslims. Imam Dr Omar Suleiman, a university professor in Texas and founder of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, welcomed President-elect Biden’s promise to repeal, on his first day in office, the travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim countries. But he said Biden should also end the wars that have destroyed predominantly Muslim countries and shut down Guantanamo Bay; end the qualified immunity for police officers to stop the deaths of black people; undo the policies that separate families at the border; and act decisively to protect Uighurs in northwest China, Muslims in India, people in Palestine and the Rohingya from Myanmar. He set out his views for the Religion News Service.

Council takes court action to close Christian bookshop that flouted lockdown rules

A Christian bookshop and tea room in Gedling, Nottinghamshire, has been issued with four fixed penalty notices totalling £17,000 for failing to comply with Covid-19 restrictions and now faces immediate closure. Police were called to the shop last weekend after reports that 40-50 people were gathered inside. On Monday a Nottingham Post reporter saw it was open again. Premier Christian news reports a statement from Gedling Council: “We have tried to work with this business but unfortunately they have continually ignored our warnings … They have left us with no other choice but to use enforcement action against them, seeking support from the courts to secure immediate closure”.