Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.
Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him. Read more
“Like a shot heard around the world, like the only piece of news
It choked any other thing that might have spoken true”
‘Josephine’, Paul Kamm and Eleanore MacDonald (Ruby Eyes Publishing)
The mantra is “September 11 changed everything”. But this was, and remains, a lie – unless of course your father or sister or lover died that day in the fires of lower Manhattan, in the Pentagon, or in a Pennsylvanian field. It was a lie, crafted by the speech-makers and deployed with gusto by our politicians and ‘opinion-formers’ in order to create a state of exception – a framework for new colonial expeditions and occupations, and a justification for torture and extraordinary renditions. Read more
A Heart Broken Open: Radical faith in an age of fear
Wild Goose, 204pp, ISBN 9781905010615
Many of the recent books about Islam – by Christians and non-Christians alike – are given titles confined by a rather narrow range of symbols and clichés (depending on the position of the author): ‘jihad’, ‘threat’, ‘terror’, ‘crescent’, ‘dialogue’, ‘understanding’. Ray Gaston’s title – ‘A Heart Broken Open’ – is an immediate clue that this is not your usual Christian unpacks (or attacks) Islam offering.
The book is divided into three parts, entitled ‘Solidarity’, ‘Truth’, and ‘Dialogue’. The first section relates Ray’s different experiences as a parish priest in Leeds, grappling with how to respond to the ‘war on terror’ and invasion of Iraq. The second section, ‘Truth’, has a much stronger emphasis on spirituality, with reflections on Ray’s exploration of Islam and how that in turn provided insight into his own Christian faith. Read more
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
In the lead up to the war on Iraq, two slogans dominated both marches and anti-war rhetoric: ‘Not in our name!’ and ‘No blood for oil!’ The former attacked the undemocratic way the war was being forced on an unwilling population, and the latter proposed to expose the real nature of the sacrifice being demanded by our leaders. Oil remains the most popular reason why the US went to war amongst opponents, and even some supporters, of the campaign. Read more
By now the signs are familiar. A build up of rhetoric and demonisation of the ‘other’. Documents and dossiers on horrible threats. Newspapers fill their pages with battle plan graphics. War is looming.
At the same time as citizens in Baghdad wait for the bombs to start falling, and government spokesmen prepare to wrap their tongues around that poisonous phrase ‘collateral damage’, some in Britain are marching to a different beat. Read more
It is a fact that when a politician says something you must carefully analyze why it was said. The grander the statement the closer the scrutiny must be. This is because messianic visions and courageous vows are not usually followed by accompanying actions. Unfortunately, in the happy coincidence that deed matches rhetoric, it is often when implementing xenophobic immigration policies, proclaiming new infringements on civil liberties or trumpeting new crusades against the oppressed.
Tony Blair is, perhaps, more prone than most to discrepancies in promise and delivery. But his recent war mongering towards Iraq has the ring of sincerity and there is a sad inevitability about Blair’s involvement in Bush’s war. Read more