Religion news 26 August 2021

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Image credit: Bushey United Synagogue

World Jewish Relief attracts massive support for Afghan refugee appeal

World Jewish Relief has launched a campaign to raise funds in order to help Afghan refugees displaced in the turmoil following the Taliban takeover of power. All major branches of Judaism in the UK are backing the appeal to provide food vouchers, shelter and employment opportunities.  The charity was founded to support Jews fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s and said it would work with partner charities around the world to support Afghans, saying: “Jewish values teach us not to stand idly in the face of suffering and injustice”. Jewish News reports that last weekend, hundreds of people donated to a collection held by Bushey United Synagogue, with clothes and other essentials donated to more than 30 Afghan families living in the Hertfordshire area, many of whom were interpreters for the British army during the last two decades.

Police visit forces Birmingham mosque manager to take down post about the Taliban

The general manager of one of Birmingham’s biggest mosques has been visited by police after he shared a Facebook post of Taliban leaders in prayer in the presidential palace during the capture of Kabul. Saddique Hussain, of the Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath , wrote alongside it: “How beautiful and civilised and no ‘I’. May Allah SWT guide us on to His beautiful religion”.  He took down the post minutes after the police visit and in an apology said he had never supported the Taliban and regretted any offence caused. The Birmingham Mail says some worshippers, including those who had fled the Taliban regime 20 years ago, were furious.  

Salvation Army says government’s levelling up fund excludes places of high deprivation

The Salvation Army says that more than a third of England’s most deprived areas will not benefit from the Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund. The report “Understanding People, Understanding Places” says that while coastal and rural areas feature some of the highest levels of deprivation, these are also the areas most likely to miss out on Levelling Up investment.  It warns that unless the Government rethinks how it calculates an area’s need, entire communities will be locked out of funding and left to spiral into further poverty. It says a further 45 areas should be given access to funding, including coastal areas missed out of government calculations. Lack of access to childcare was one of the key barriers to people finding work and people were trapped in low paid seasonal jobs which are at risk after the pandemic. It recommends extending 30 hours per week of free childcare to 52 weeks and investing in skills and employment support.

Head of illegal Islamic school warned she faces jail for defying law

The head teacher of an illegal Islamic private school in Streatham has been warned she faces jail after continuing to operate the school in defiance of a previous conviction. Naida Ali, aged 40, ran the Ambassadors High School for more than six months after being sentenced to community service for operating the unregistered school and this week she appeared in court charged with breaching regulation provisions contrary to the Education and Skills Act 2008. She had told the BBC after the first conviction that she wanted to continue operating the “unique” school and would apply for registration. The deputy chief magistrate at Westminster Magistrates Court said: “I find that very serious, and contemptuous. I have already indicated what I’m thinking on sentencing you”. Times report here

Rohingya refugee children mount surprise protest against Myanmar military rule

Thousands of children at Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh have marked the fourth anniversary of the Myanmar military crackdown with a surprise 15 minute march in protest. More than 700,000 Muslim Rohingya fled to Bangladesh and a community leader said between 3,000 and 4,000 children – some aged just five years old – took part, chanting “we want justice” and “we want safe repatriation”. France 24 says Bangladesh authorities have banned protests and rallies, saying they could spread the coronavirus, which has killed at least 30 Rohingya and infected thousands.

Greenbelt festival goes back to its roots

The Greenbelt Christian arts festival is not happening this year due to Covid-19, but in its place, organisers have created “Prospect Farm”, an echo of Greenbelt’s beginnings in simple informality which takes place this weekend. People can turn up with tents and camper vans at the usual Greenbelt venue, Boughton Place near Kettering, but they will find a “gathering”, not a full festival event. People are being encouraged to “gather, chat, play, pray, listen, chill, and say thanks” but there are some staged events – music, comedy, worship and family shows, as well as the Tiny Tea Tent and Jesus Arms. Such is Greenbelt’s following, tickets have sold out.

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