Religion news 20 June 2022

Image credit: Singhalong100, public domain

Sikh gurdwara attacked in Afghanistan

The Islamic State group has admitted responsibility for attacking a Sikh gurdwara in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed at least two worshippers and wounded seven others. The Associated Press quotes reports that a vehicle filled with explosives was detonated outside the temple. In a statement, Islamic State, also known as Isis or Daesh, said the battle lasted three hours after a member of the group stormed the temple, killing the guard and then targeting the people inside with machine-gun fire and hand grenades.  It said the action resulted from alleged insults made against the Prophet Muhammad by an Indian government official.  There are an estimated 80 Sikh families in Afghanistan, down from 500,000 Sikhs in the 1970s.

Islamophobia in UK “much worse” than five years ago

Five years after a van ploughed into Muslims near Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, its chairman has warned that Islamophobia in the UK is “much worse now than it was five years ago”.  Speaking at a memorial service, Mohammed Kozbar said Muslims still do not feel safe. In the attack, Makram Ali, a 51 year old grandfather, was killed when a van was driven into a group outside a welfare centre. At the memorial service, his daughter Ruzina Akhtar said people should  voice any Islamophobic behaviour so it is tackled straight away.

Muslim Council of Britain joins calls to rethink Rwanda policy

The Muslim Council of Britain has joined growing calls for the government to rethink its controversial scheme to deport to Rwanda those seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Earlier we raised concerns that this scheme would be discriminatory. That has been borne out by reports that the first deportees would have been those from Muslim countries fleeing persecution. I call on our leaders and those in the media who hold sway to rethink their rhetoric. We should go beyond policies that appeal to the lowest common denominator and uphold our values of celebrating diversity and being welcoming of all.”

Unlocking the creative talent of Muslims in Wales

A campaign designed to encourage and advertise the creative talent of Muslims in Wales, was launched this weekend by the organisation “Now in a Minute”, at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.  The sell out event “Unlocking the Wales creative scene” included exhibitions and faith-based panel discussions, such as “Where are all the Muslims in art?” and “Does Islam inhibit creativity?”. Participants included actors, writers, illustrators, photographers and TV presenters, The aim is to promote films from Wales-based Muslim talent, to create space for discussion on issues affecting the communities, and to produce tutorial videos and workshops to share skills in a variety of fields.

Archbishop of York “terrified” before preaching at the Platinum Jubilee

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, has told Premier Christian news that he was terrified when he was told he had to preach a sermon at the Platinum Jubilee Thanksgiving service. He was invited at the last minute, because the Archbishop of Canterbury contracted Covid. Stephen Cottrell said the service was an opportunity to say something of the joy of Christian faith in the life of the nation. His sermon is remembered for references to racing: “Let me observe that your long reign reflects the distance of Aintree more than the sprints of Epsom”..  and .. “Your Majesty, we’re sorry you’re not with us this morning in person, but we are so glad you are still in the saddle”, to illustrate how the Queen had “stayed the course” and that her service and faithfulness mattered. He said he was humbled to think that somehow God was able to use his words to speak to many people.

The Rev Richard Coles makes debut as crime novelist

The Rev Richard Coles  has given an interview to the Church Times on his new  venture as a crime novelist. His first book in a series of three, Murder Before Evensong, is just published and tells the story of crime in a quiet English village. He explained that one of his most powerful encounters in ministry was with a man who had killed someone 30 years ago and was still haunted by it. He found parallels between being a vicar and a crime novelist, as both look for “what’s going on underneath”.

Rainbow over Cornwall “a sign of blessing” for Archbishop’s visit

The Archbishop of Canterbury visited Cornwall this weekend, to encourage churches to reach out into the community. The diocese is embroiled in a vigorous debate over how it spends its money, with the Save the Parish campaign saying it is throwing money at evangelistic missions at the expense of supporting parish work. The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mountstephen, was quick to see a sign of divine intervention, posting a picture of an arching rainbow as “an astonishing sign of blessing” for the Archbishop’s visit.


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