Religion news 9 December

Image credit: Michael Gillen, Falkirk Herald

British Muslim doctors counter false news on Covid-19 vaccine with the facts

As Covid-19 vaccines begin to be rolled out in Britain, YouGov has found that 20% of the population say they will not take it. This ‘vaccine hesitancy’ was discussed at the recent British Islamic Medical Association zoom conference. Dr Muhammad Munir, from Lancaster University, outlined the way the top three vaccines work and then listed answers to concerns such as: the vaccine can manipulate your DNA (false), contain matter from foetuses (from cells produced decades ago in one vaccine only), contains pork gelatine (false), and has been rushed through so cannot be trusted (rushed but solid). In 15 minutes, he gave the research and detail enabling medical staff to counter the resistance. The conference was filmed and is available here

Christchurch mosque massacres could not have been stopped

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the New Zealand Christchurch mosque massacre, which killed 51 people, has concluded that it could not have been prevented.  It says the attacker eluded detection by keeping a low profile and telling nobody of his intentions.  The report highlights failings in the police system for vetting gun licences, and said intelligence agencies overlooked threats from white supremacism. It also revealed the experience of Muslims facing hate crime, racism, discrimination and being suspected of terrorism. Full report and comments here; explainer from the March 2019 attack here

Archbishop and Chief Rabbi speak of pain and sadness of losing a child

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi have spoken to the BBC about their sense of loss, sadness and pain at losing a child. Justin Welby lost his seven month old daughter Johanna in a car crash in 1983. Ephraim Mirvis lost his 30 year old daughter Liora to cancer in 2011. They said they were still being “caught by surprise” by grief and such deep loss is with you for the rest of your life.

New director of communications for the Church of England

Mark Arena is the new director of comms for the CofE, promoted from his role as head of financial comms. He has previously worked in comms roles in investment banking and finance and, according to PR week, founded “The PR Verdict”, a website which grades PR strategies for how the news is spun. He replaces Tashi Lassalle who has returned to the private sector.

Christians in Turkey “suppressed and exploited”

International Christian Concern and Middle East Concern have warned that Christians in Turkey believe they are being systematically suppressed or exploited for political gain. Christians make up  0.2% of the population in a country where the Turkish identity is seen as Islamic, and Christians believe they are being pushed to the margin. They cite the change of use of the former cathedral Hagia Sophia, which has become a mosque. They also feel they are used as bargaining chips in a dispute over the Christian Eastern Orthodox Halki Seminary in Istanbul, which will only be opened once concessions are made for Turks in Greece.

Netherlands report urges action to return looted art to Jewish people

In the Netherlands, a government review is recommending a  transformation in the way art from Nazi collections  is returned to its rightful owners. It says the country needs to show more humanity, transparency and goodwill towards the heirs of Holocaust victims. The report says since 2015, the Dutch have been wrong to weigh up the interests of modern-day museums against those of the rightful heirs. In the last 20 years, of  1,620 objects claimed, 64 per cent were not returned. It says there should be a clear framework for requests and a €3 million, four-year research project to trace the history of looted goods and find the heirs.