Religion news 21 October

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Concern at anti Islam sentiments following teacher beheading in France

The French Interior minister Gérald Darmanin has been criticised in this country for actions taken since a history teacher was beheaded by an Islamist last week, in protest at the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Homes of Islamist suspects described as “enemies of the Republic” were raided;  investigations were launched at 51 Islamic organisations; a mosque was closed; action was taken to dissolve two Islamic associations – the Collective Against Islamophobia in France and BarakaCity; and proposals were brought to end faith-based dietary restriction products in supermarkets, targeting Halal food. Jemma Levene of Hope not Hate said the actions were deeply worrying; Miqdaad Versi from the Muslim Council of Britain said: “French Muslims who compile Islamophobic hate crimes, are not “an enemy” & using phrases like “enemy within” is very dangerous.”

Stop speaking out or face disestablishment, Bishops warned

Tory MP Steve Baker has threatened to start proceedings to disestablish the church of England, unless the bishops stop criticising the government.  He told The Times that the bishops had sown division instead of unity, by describing the bill that would allow Britain to break the EU withdrawal agreement, as a breach of international law- an interpretation that is disputed. “I hope they will apologise,” he said. “Of course they’re entitled to their political views while they sit in the House of Lords. If people don’t want them to have these views, perhaps the prime minister ought to move to a paving motion on the disestablishment of the Church of England.”

John Sentamu “will be given peerage”

The Church Times is reporting that the House of Lords Appointments Commission “has given the green light for Dr John Sentamu to be given a peerage”. It is custom and practice to ennoble an Archbishop as soon as he has stepped down from office, but this did not happen to John Sentamu. The Sunday Times suggested the decision was delayed until the IICSA report on sex abuse in the church was published.  It is understood his name will be included in the New Year’s Honours list, though the timing was “down to Number 10”.

Nylon wire boundary is created round an Orthodox community in Manchester

Councilllors in Cheadle and Stockport have agreed that an orthodox Jewish community can create a high boundary around 2.4 square miles which will enable them to walk within the area on the Sabbath. The “eruv” is constructed with nylon wire and 32 poles, enabling the home boundary to be extended into a public space, so that objects such as prams can be pushed around on the Sabbath within the Jewish law. The Jewish Chronicle reports that one councillor objected saying it might increase social division and lead to more antisemitism. But councillors approved the plan saying  it would make the area more socially inclusive.

Global faith leaders meet in Rome despite pandemic

Faith and political leaders from all parts of the globe gathered in Rome to pray for peace. The annual gathering organised by the Community of Saint Egidio usually lasts for several days, but this year was an evening event due to the coronavirus. Leaders wore masks and observed social distancing. In a statement they called for world peace, the end of war and an end to climate change.


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