There are dark clouds gathering across England. The tabloid press attacks the judiciary as “enemies of the people”. The prime minister berates “activist left-wing human rights lawyers” for pursuing legal cases against British soldiers accused of war crimes. Right-wing demagogues contrast the “political elite” with “the will of the people”. Read more
Posts tagged ‘war on terror’
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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