Last week, BBC’s Panorama broadcast a documentary on “The Battle for British Islam” by John Ware, a journalist and film-maker. Ware followed this up with an extended op-ed in this weekend’s Independent on Sunday, covering much of the same ground. Together, they provide an insight into the disturbing assumptions and consequences of current, official ‘anti-extremism’ policies. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Islam’
It’s happening again. It never really goes away, but, for different reasons, it tends to come in periodic bursts.
What am I talking about? Britain’s latest frenzy of Islamophobic incitement.
The familiar elements are all present. Demands for communal apologies, for explanations and justifications. Come on, the crowd shrieks, convince us that you belong here! Assure us that we’re safe with you in our midst! Deny links to the Taliban, condemn Boko Haram, and publicly renounce Al-Qaeda for us all to see! Read more
It has been revealed that a British Ministry of Defense advisor — who helped write the “religious engagement strategy” for troops occupying the Afghan province of Kandahar — believes Islam might “be the rod of God’s anger,” raising disturbing questions for the military and the UK government.
Patrick Sookhdeo, who teaches at the UK’s Defense Academy and has served in the role of “cultural advisor” to troops in Afghanistan and southern Iraq, is also a regular speaker at events held by churches and Christian organizations internationally. 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
Nissa Finney and Ludi Simpson
Policy Press, 218pp
Two months after British citizens exploded bombs in rucksacks on London’s public transport system, the head of what was then the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, warned that British society was ’sleepwalking to segregation’. Four years on, while the national conversation is perhaps less emotive, claims born out of a time of polarisation have become assumed ‘truths’ for some: ‘Muslim extremists are thriving in ghettoes’, ‘Whites are becoming a minority in their own country’.
‘Sleepwalking to Segregation’? confronts scaremongering, speculation and flabby rhetoric with hard statistics and pointed questions. It aims ‘to set the record straight’. Finney is a Research Fellow at Manchester specialising in ethnic group population patterns, while Ludi Simpson is Professor of Population Studies there. Read more
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