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Posts tagged ‘Christian-Muslim relations’

Can the pope help Christian Palestinians?

The pope’s visit to Israel/Palestine has thrown the spotlight on the troubled Christian Palestinian community, a group normally only considered in the western media at Christmas when the world’s media descends on Bethlehem.

However, the feelings of the local faithful about Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage are quite mixed, an ambiguity caused by an uncertainty about the Vatican’s agenda for the visit, and the political atmosphere post-Gaza assault.

Plenty of Christians, especially Catholics, are understandably happy from a personal, religious point of view. Yet for many, the sense of celebration is tempered by a hope that the pope’s visit will contribute something to their dire day-to-day reality. Read more

Review: Patrick Sookhdeo’s ‘Global Jihad: The future in the face of militant Islam’

Since September 11 2001, there has been a huge growth in the number of books that seek, in different ways, to explain and analyse the phenomenon of high-profile violent attacks by extremist Islamist groups. This trend has been mirrored in the Christian publishing industry, with many books now available in the average Christian bookshop on Islam, terrorism, and Christian-Muslim relations.

Patrick Sookhdeo straddles both worlds, as both sought after expert in the mainstream media, as well as a popular author and speaker in British (and increasingly US) Christian circles. In more recent times, Sookhdeo has also worked for the British Military of Defence, NATO, and the US military as an advisor and lecturer. Read more

Britain, Christianity and Islam

The differing responses to Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali’s interview with the Daily Telegraph on 6 January 2008 tended to focus on his claim that across Britain, “Islamic extremists have created ‘no-go’ areas” for non-Muslims. However, there is a different approach to a constructively critical engagement of Nazir-Ali’s analysis, one that begins with the Bishop’s view that “it is now less possible for Christianity to be the public faith in Britain”.

While Nazir-Ali’s comments were primarily about British Muslims, there was a broader context reflected both in his own remarks, and the Telegraph’s reporting of a recent Synod survey. This survey revealed that “bishops, senior clergy and influential churchgoers” consider “an increasingly multi-faith society” to threaten “the country’s Christian heritage”, while a third of those questioned thought that “a mass influx of people of other faiths is diluting the Christian nature of Britain”. Read more

Shadow over Bethlehem

Writing for The Times recently, Michael Gove lashed out at the seasonal focus on contemporary Bethlehem’s plight under Israeli occupation. “Demonising” Israel, apparently, has become as festive as “eggnog lattes”.

Gove is at least partly correct. Christmas is an obvious opportunity for Bethlehem’s residents and their supporters to raise awareness. Gove mentioned the latest work done by graffiti artist Banksy, but the Palestine Solidarity Campaign also recently held a concert in London, while the Amos Trust has a downloadable pack for use in churches around the country. Read more

Defending Christian Peacemakers

At the time of writing, the fate of the four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) kidnapped in Iraq by a previously unknown group ‘Swords of Truth Brigades’ is unknown. While we pray that they are released unharmed, it is also worth examining the events surrounding their capture and the international response, since they suggest a positive way of challenging those who perpetrate injustice in the name of religion.

The men held hostage, including the British man Norman Kember, plus two Canadians and an American, are a part of CPT actions around the world, where members pursue projects of peace and justice in conflict-stricken towns and neighbourhoods. The CPT presence in Iraq goes back to 2002, when they began their work of providing independent information, monitoring human rights abuses, and facilitating non-violent intervention training. Read more