Religion news 23 February

Image: Thomas a Becket and St Mary's Ramsey church Fete

Church considers new advice as country emerges from lockdown

The Church of England is considering new guidance after the government published a roadmap for the country to emerge from lockdown. The stages include gradual relaxation of rules around the number of people allowed to attend weddings and no restrictions by 21 June at the earliest. The Bishop of London Sarah Mullaly said there had been an enormous cost to the economy and to the bereaved, lonely and those separated from loved ones.

Muslim Council of Britain seeks re-engagement with the government

The Muslim Council of Britain is calling on the government to reconsider   its policy of refusing to engage with it, after an incident 11 years ago. In 2009, the government asked the MCB to sack one of its leaders at the time, Daud Abdullah, who had signed the Istanbul declaration, reported as being in support of Hamas and military action. The MCB refused and the sides have been estranged since. The Telegraph reported that Penny Mordaunt, the paymaster general, has come under fire for meeting the new MCB secretary general Zara Mohammed last Friday. Now The Guardian reports that the MCB is urging ministers to reconsider the policy of non-engagement.

Charities urged to support review of Prevent strategy

The UK’s top counter-terror officer, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, has urged charities not to boycott a review of the government’s Prevent strategy in protest at the man chosen to lead it. William Shawcross, a former chairman of the Charity Commission, has made controversial comments which have been attacked as Islamophobic. Mr Basu said he hoped the charities would reconsider because the review would bring “lasting improvement to this vital strategy”.

Canadian politicians declare China is committing genocide against Uighurs

Canada’s House of Commons has voted to declare that China is committing genocide against more than one million Uighurs in the western Xinjiang region,  but prime minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from the vote. The Associated Press says the measure also calls on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing.

Bahai properties confiscated in northern Iran

Fifty high-ranking legal professionals in Canada have written an open letter to Iran’s chief justice, Ebrahim Raisi, expressing deep concern at human rights violations against Iran’s Bahai community. They are protesting against a court ruling to confiscate Bahai properties in Ivel, a village in northern Iran, displacing dozens of families. They say the Bahais in Iran were once a thriving community of farmers and small business owners, but they have been persecuted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.