Religion news 3 February

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‘The best of us’: Tributes pour in for Captain Sir Tom

Captain Sir Tom Moore, who became a national hero after raising tens of millions of pounds for the NHS, has died at the age of 100 after contracting the coronavirus. He came to the nation’s attention in March last year as his fundraising effort to complete100 laps of his back garden, assisted by a walking frame, commanded TV features and news headlines. Thrust into the spotlight, his humility, cheerfulness and determination endeared him to millions. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told Good Morning Britain that Sir Tom was “the very best of us. His courage, compassion, resilience, hope and generosity have been an inspiration to millions — and an example to us all.”

Zara Mohammed: the courage to make a difference

Zara Mohammed, 29, the first woman and the first Scot to be elected secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, has spoken of her commitment to conversation, relationship building and creating partnerships in her new role. At no stage, she told a Religion Media Centre zoom briefing, was her age or gender mentioned as an issue, and though the job, which is voluntary, was a huge challenge, “shouldn’t we be a little but courageous in the pursuit of making a difference?” she said. Ms Mohammed answered questions on Prevent, relations with the government, interfaith relations and response to the pandemic. Full interview on our website here and recording on our YouTube channel here

Highest rate of Covid-19 infection in the world is among strictly Orthodox Jews

The Jewish Chronicle reports high rates of coronavirus infection among the Charedi strictly orthodox Jewish community. It says a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University College London’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and the Medical Advocacy and Referral Service has shown 65 per cent were infected, rising to 75 per cent among adults and children in secondary school, and more than 50 per cent among children of primary school age. The community asked for the research to be done last year in the first wave. The study, published on Tuesday, said the “estimates are amongst the highest sero-prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 described anywhere in the world to date.”

Muslim volunteers in Lancashire help to bury the dead

Volunteers are helping to conduct Muslim burials because of the sheer numbers of deaths from the coronavirus, the Lancashire Telegraph reports. Blackburn and Bolton have had the most Muslim burials this year and volunteers and cemetery staff are working round the clock to ensure the ceremonies take place within 24 hours, as the faith requires. Helpers often have to leave their jobs at a moment’s notice to help prepare the body and organise the ceremony, working closely with chaplains, mortuary attendants, grave-diggers and the council.

French Catholic bishops take strong stand against antisemitism

The Catholic bishops of France have reiterated their strong stand against antisemitism, amid growing intolerance against Jewish people in the country. Two leaders of the French Jewish community addressed the bishops’ conference in Paris to express their concerns. The bishops released a statement saying the battle against antisemitism should be everybody’s concern and they would continue to support all those engaged in it.

Boy, 4, referred to Prevent programme over video game guns and bombs

Details have emerged of a case involving a four-year-old Muslim boy from the West Midlands who was referred to the anti-terrorist Prevent programme after speaking about guns and bombs from the video game Fortnite. He was having a conversation with an after-school club worker who referred it to police, resulting in a visit to the family at 10.30pm. The case happened in September 2019 and is mentioned in freedom of information papers revealed to The Guardian.