Religion news 25 November 2021

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Mosques ‘must tackle Islamic extremism’

Families of victims of the Manchester Arena bomber have issued a statement saying the mosque which the bomber attended failed to adequately challenge extremist ideology in the years before the attack.  The families spoke out as the Manchester Arena inquiry heard evidence about the radicalisation of the arena bomber Salman Abedi and three other terrorists.  They urged all communities around the country to heed the lessons of this week’s evidence, to redouble efforts to combat extremism of all kinds, and to be clear and vocal in doing so. The chairman of the mosque’s trustees told the inquiry that it was mainstream and encouraging any radicalisation would be in contradiction of their charitable objects.

Advent protest over Covid passports

Strict anti-Covid measures at a Durham Cathedral carol service this weekend have been criticised as “discriminatory, unwelcoming and a violation of the right to worship freely”. Up to 1,000 people expected at the Advent service and procession will be required to show either a Covid vaccination passport, or proof of a negative test. One commentator wrote on the cathedral website: “One’s vaccination status should not become an entry ticket for the right to attend a collective act of public worship, not least because some are unable to be vaccinated for health reasons.” Premier Christian News report here

Israel to allow Gaza Christians a Christmas holiday

Five hundred members of the Gaza Strip’s tiny Christian community are being allowed to enter Israel and the occupied West Bank to celebrate Christmas, the Associated Press reports. Movement out of Gaza has also been restricted since an 11-day war last May between Israel and the territory’s Hamas rulers. In recent months, however, Israel has begun to ease some of the restrictions, granting several thousand Gazans permits to work inside Israel,

Actress in talks over theatre antisemitism ‘blind spot’

Jewish actress Tracy-Ann Oberman has met the artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre in London to discuss allegations of a “blind spot” towards antisemitism in its productions. Miss Oberman said she hoped her “constructive” meeting with Vicki Featherstone would begin to address issues about the theatre’s portrayal of Jews. Two months ago, playwright Al Smith’s production Rare Earth Mettle, which includes a Silicon Valley billionaire called Hershel Fink, prompted complaints of stereotyping. The theatre apologised on 8 November about an “unconscious bias” and agreed to change the character’s name, although it stressed that Fink was not meant to be Jewish. Miss Oberman told Jewish News: “This conversation has been growing like a boil for years.”

Bradford’s diversity is the star of new film

A film portraying the relationship between an elderly white man and his new Muslim carer has been made, to promote Bradford’s “uniquely diverse and tolerant” outlook. My Home is one of several films being made in the city. Director Bilal Mudassar Khan told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus: “The story highlights Islamophobic views in modern British society. We hope My Home will highlight issues of prejudice and intolerance but also help raise awareness of how British Muslims are contributing positively to modern society.”

Discrimination by Christian Brothers school ruled unlawful

A High Court judge has ruled that admissions criteria set by the Abbey Christian Brothers School in Newry, County Down, indirectly discriminates against children without a family link to the school. Mr Justice Scoffield said a condition set by the  grammar school was unlawful. Applicants for a place at the school are said to be favoured if their father went there. The Belfast Telegraph reports that the case centred on an 11-year-old son of a migrant worker who applied for entry to Year 8, but was not given a place in September.

Eye-poking sect at the heart of Covid-19 outbreak

A little-known sect led by a pastor who pokes eyes to heal followers is at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak in South Korea. The country reported a new daily record of 4,116 cases and a spike in serious cases is putting a strain on hospitals. At least 241 people, linked to the religious community in a tiny rural church in Cheonan city, south of Seoul, tested positive, Reuters reports. The “imposition of hands on eyes” is said to rid worshippers of secular desire.

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