Religion news 6 September 2021

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Image credit; Jan Chipchase CCLicense

UK Muslims ‘cautious and wary’ of Taliban takeover in Afghanistan

BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme reported on the reaction from Muslims in the UK to the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. Reporter Dan Tierney explained that the Taliban’s roots were in the Deobandi branch of Islam, which is the dominant strand in the UK. In Afghanistan the Taliban has developed differently, being influenced by the Pashtun culture in the country and the Salafi movement in Saudi Arabia, making it much more conservative in nature. Following his research, Tierney said the consensus of Sunni Muslims in the UK seemed to be gladness that foreign control had gone from Afghanistan, but caution and wariness in welcoming the Islamic system of government, and a desire to hold it to account on its treatment of minorities and women. A spokesman for UK Shia Muslims told him their counterparts in Afghanistan had a sense of dread and despair due to the Taliban’s track record on political and religious persecution. The report is here 19’55’’

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Pope calls on the world to welcome and protect Afghan refugees

Pope Francis has urged countries across the globe to welcome and protect vulnerable Afghans who are fleeing their country. “In these troubled times that see Afghans seeking refuge. I pray for the most vulnerable among them. I pray that many countries will welcome and protect those seeking a new life,” he said. He was also concerned for internally displaced people and that all Afghans should be able to live with dignity, in peace and fraternity with their neighbours.

Gordon Brown: western stockpiling of the Covid vaccine is a moral outrage

The former prime minister Gordon Brown says it is a moral outrage that the West is overstocking supplies of Covid vaccinations, depriving countries in Africa and elsewhere from vaccinating their populations. A report from Airfinity says western nations were hoarding 300 million vaccines which could be used elsewhere and that this total could rise to one billion by Christmas. On the Radio 4 Sunday programme, Mr Brown said that 70 per cent of adults in the West have been vaccinated, against only 2 per cent in low-income countries. He is calling on President Joe Biden to convene an emergency G7 vaccines summit to agree a plan to send unused vaccines to Africa and low-income countries.

Universal Credit cut will cause immense and avoidable hardship

One hundred organisations have written to Boris Johnson pleading with him not to go ahead with the planned £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit. The cut is due to come in on 6 October, but the signatories say: “We all want a social security system that supports families to escape poverty rather than pulling them deeper into it. However, this cut risks causing immense, immediate, and avoidable hardship.” The letter is co-ordinated by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and signed by groups including Christians Against Poverty, Church Action on Poverty and the Salvation Army.

Anglican bishop against women’s ordination becomes Roman Catholic

The Anglican Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, who is opposed to the ordination of women, has resigned to join the Roman Catholic church. He was a “flying bishop”, who oversaw parishes and church members who do not accept women as priests of bishops. In a statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he was deeply grateful to the bishop for his ministry and many years of faithful service.

Teenagers move to exonerate a wrongly accused Salem witch

A woman convicted of witchcraft in 1693 may be exonerated after a class of 13-year-olds researched her case and decided to call for her pardon, the Associated Press reports. Elizabeth Johnson Jr was 22 when she was condemned at the height of the Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts. The state governor threw out the case and Johnson escaped hanging, but she was never pardoned. Twenty people from Salem and nearby towns were killed and hundreds of others accused “during a frenzy of Puritan injustice stoked by superstition, fear of disease and strangers, scapegoating and petty jealousies”, AP reports. The teenagers’ research was taken up by Democrat Senator Diana DiZoglio, who is formally seeking to include Johnson’s name in legislation pardoning others who were wrongly accused. If lawmakers approve the measure, Johnson will be the last accused witch to be cleared.

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