Religion news 31 May 2024

Image credit: @Faizashaheen

Muslim Council of Britain “gravely concerned” at de-selection of Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen

The Muslim Council of Britain has issued a statement noting “with grave concern” allegations of Islamophobia in the Labour Party and is seeking urgent clarification in the case of Faiza Shaheen, the parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, who  has been blocked from standing by the national party. The statement says political parties should not allow hostile environments to emerge for British Muslims: “The Labour Party above all, as the home of the UK’s first black woman MP and first Muslim member of parliament, should be mindful of this”. The MCB has urged all parties to adopt a hopeful campaign, and “to resist the urge to scapegoat Muslims and minorities, proposing a future where all Britons can play a positive role.” The Labour party has announced that the new candidate in Chingford is former history teacher and Brent councillor, Shama Tatler.

Quakers urge compassion and justice for migrants

Immigration is one of the key themes in this election campaign and Britain’s 20,000 Quakers say compassion and justice should be the guiding principles when dealing with migrant and refugee policies. They have signed a joint letter to abolish the Rwanda bill, but the Quaker movement members come from across the political spectrum, joining forces on chosen causes such as hosting a venue for refugee support or cooking meals for families in need. Across the world, there are an estimated 400,000 Quakers in 87 countries, and they are known for campaigning on issues like climate change and pacifism. In Brussels, the Quaker Council for European Affairs is running an online course, together with Woodbrooke, an international Quaker learning and research organisation based in Britain, on migration and peace in Europe. Read more in Lianne Kolirin’s report here

Election campaign poll for people of faith on the front line: “What Matters to Us?”

The charity Faith Action, which supports faith communities involved in social action, has launched a running survey during the election campaign called “What Matters to Us?”. It invites people who work on the front line of social need, to answer questions on the issues they want to see addressed and then whether any party has presented a compelling vision for the UK in 2024.  A message from its director, Daniel Singleton, says the media will report issues which are on the forefront of the mind of the electorate, but asks how accurate that choice will be and suggests they are unlikely to tell the full story. That’s why it has chosen to run its own poll to gauge whether the political parties are addressing the issues that people of faith care about. He says these might be different to the wider population “sometimes these are issues beyond national boundaries, but equally, it can refer to moral issues such end-of-life care, or issues of justice – where we may see things beyond the assumed boundaries of class and interest”. The survey is here

Pope says use of walls to keep migrants out is not Christian

The Pope has said the use of walls to keep out migrants is not Christian. In “The Pope” video, produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, he invites prayer for people fleeing from their own countries and says “whoever welcomes a migrant welcomes Christ. As Christians, we cannot remain indifferent regarding the walls separating families, and the walls in hearts. A migrant needs to be accompanied, promoted, and integrated.” He asks for prayer for migrants to find welcome and new living opportunities in the countries that welcome them. Independent Catholic News story here

Plans to outsource CofE safeguarding process fails to win support

The Church Times reports on a CofE survey into the views of church members on a recommendation to hand over safeguarding work to an independent body. This was a proposal from a report by Professor Alexis Jay, chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, who was asked by the CofE to review the CofE safeguarding process when the national system spectacularly imploded last July. She recommended that two new independent charities funded by the Church should take over the process. But the survey shows most bishops and safeguarding professionals in the C of E oppose the proposal, with only three out of 25 bishops surveyed, agreeing. It found 60 per cent of survivors were in favour. In contrast, a proposal that “oversight and scrutiny” be transferred to an independent body was supported by 79 per cent of respondents overall. Detail in the Church Times here.

Oxford University dispute over handling of Palestinian camp protests

Oxford university’s Jewish faculty has pushed back at claims from the university on 23 May that the tent camp protests against Israel’s action in Gaza have “created a deeply intimidating environment for many members of our community, including our Jewish students and staff and members of the local Jewish community”. In an open letter addressed to Oxford University and the Vice-Chancellor, they say: “The characterisation of Jews as a uniform mass with a single viewpoint is itself a common and insidious antisemitic trope.”  Oxford’s Jewish Students for Justice also released a statement rejecting the IHRA definition of antisemitism which includes criticism of Israel. It called for alternative definitions which offer a “more nuanced approach and connect the fight against antisemitism with the fight against all other forms of hate”.  Story here

99 year old Jewish ex-soldier remembers the fear and sounds of D-Day on its 80th anniversary

The Associated Press carries an interview with Mervyn Kersh, 99 year old survivor of D-Day now living in London, whose Jewish tradition led him to carry a book of psalms and do his best to observe kosher food laws while on the front line. He tells reporter Danica Kirka what he remembers of being on a landing ship approaching the Normandy coast with artillery shells from Allied ships and German shore batteries, and then landing on 6 June. On liberation, he saw at first hand the survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He will return to France next week for ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy that followed. He says his motivation, knowing something of the gas chambers and executions, was to “put the Germans out of action as long as possible.” Interview here

Ex Yorkshire cricketer Rafiq says club cricket revolves around alcohol excluding Muslims

Azeem Rafiq, the key whistleblower in the Yorkshire cricket racism scandal, has told an audience at the Hay Festival that cricket must move away from its alcohol culture or it will continue to alienate Muslim fans. Rafiq, formerly with Yorkshire, said club cricket revolves around alcohol which excludes Muslims who don’t drink. He said attempts to set up Asian cricket clubs outside the mainstream were because many felt excluded. British Asians represent 30 per cent of players at recreational level, but only four per cent at professional level. The Times reports that Rafiq told the festival he had been forced to leave Britain for Dubai because of the fallout from the Yorkshire racism scandal.

Faith inclusion charity runs football match with top players for children of Gaza

Nujum, the organisation which builds connections between sports organisations and communities celebrating diversity and inclusivity, is putting on a charity football match to raise funds for the children in Gaza.  The Nujum Sports Children of Gaza exhibition game will take place tomorrow, Saturday 1 June 2024, in Edgware and will feature premier club footballers, international stars and household names including Anwar El Ghazi, former Aston Villa and Netherlands international who is captaining one side. Other players are from Fulham, Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Ipswich, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea and Portsmouth. Nujum’s CEO and founder Ebs Rahman says: “All children need to be protected and cared for no matter what their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, or faith. Our duty of care goes beyond borders, and we must act now to make sure our response is genuine, impactful, and urgent”. Islam Channel story is here


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