Religion news 20 May

pic: London Assembly

British Muslims are being urged to stay away from parks this weekend as they celebrate Eid  – the end of Ramadan.  Traditionally marked with congregational prayers in mosques and parks followed by parties with families and friends, “Eid is the time of the Coronavirus will look markedly different”, according to the Muslim Council of Britain.  The umbrella group has called upon British Muslims to maintain social distancing at a time which is usually spent in big gatherings.  A post on the organisation’s website states: “Muslims are being encouraged to celebrate Eid in the same way as Ramadan: from home, and virtually with friends and family. The special prayers for the day of Eid – usually prayed in mosques or in parks – may be prayed within households, with gifts exchanged by post, and the celebration to be shared virtually.”

A row has broken out among Sikh communities in the UK over representation on a government taskforce set up to discuss the reopening of places of worship.  A group of religious leaders attended the first virtual meeting of a taskforce convened by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick on Friday to discuss ways in which religious life can be reinstated following lockdown. The Sikh Federation  convened a zoom meeting of Gudwara leaders seeking different representation on the group.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews says as of 15  May, there have been 458 Jewish funerals carried out where the deceased contracted Covid-19. This is an increase of 18 on last week’s figure.

Ravi Zacharias, a renowned American evangelist, has died from a rare cancer, at the age of 74. He was a prolific writer and preacher who travelled the world through his work with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, which he founded in 1984. It formed a global team of nearly 100 Christian scholars and authors, who will continue to ‘speak, resource, train and address the questions of millions around the world’.

The Bahá’í International community says it is appalled at the treatment of Baha’is in Iran, highlighting several cases in the past few months of people who are innocent and ‘prisoners of conscience’. These include arrests, long prison sentences for ‘propaganda against the regime’ and prison recalls during the Covid19 pandemic. Diane Ala’i, representative of the Bahá’í International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, said Baha’is in Iran are denied the right to public employment and to study at university, adding ‘they have to endure arbitrary arrests and imprisonment only for their faith’.