On 5th December 2017 a Government statement was repeated in the House of Lords about David Anderson’s report on recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, from these Benches I very much welcome the Statement and the sentiments in it, particularly its focus on the direct victims. However, there are also indirect victims of such attacks—those who are made to feel more afraid simply to go about their daily lives. That includes a lot of people, not least many in our Muslim communities. Does the noble Earl agree that, as a result of these attacks, it is very important to do all we can to increase the feeling of safety among those in Muslim communities, seeing them not just as people who must be targeted for information but as people who are part of our wider community and whom we must cherish and care for, helping them to feel safe and welcome? This includes not just community policing but many other areas of work with them, and it includes a very strong focus on dealing with right-wing extremism, which would threaten those communities. Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough says response to terror attacks must include making Muslim communities feel safe and welcome”
On November 30th 2017 the House of Lords heard repeated a Government statement about online hate speech, following the sharing by the United States President Donald Trump of material about Muslims produced by the far-right organisation ‘Britain First’. The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: Further to the last point made by the noble Lord, does the Minister agree that in addition to abhorring violence, the vast majority of Muslims in this country make an immeasurable contribution to the life of this country, for which we should be profoundly grateful and which needs to be expressed by this House? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester praises contribution of Muslims to UK society, following tweets by President Trump”
On 25th October 2017 Baroness Afshar asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of official announcements relating to terrorism focussing on the perpetrator’s creed rather than the crime committed; and whether any such assessment has informed their practice in such cases.”
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, the difficulty for those of us on the ground, Muslim and Christian, who are trying to work at good community relations is that reportage of these crimes against humanity in the media can fuel hate crime against Muslim people and destroy the trust that we are trying to build in our communities. Does the Minister agree that we need to develop language that learns some lessons from the man who witnessed the Leytonstone tube attack in 2015, who said: “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv”—language that does not incriminate the entire Muslim community, despite their rejection of violent terrorists as not true Muslims—so that we can all stand together under the same banner of peace? Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks about impact on community relations of way terrorist activities are reported”
On 17th October 2017 Baroness Warsi asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they have a definition of Islamophobia; and, if so, what it is.” The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham James, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, does the Minister agree that, whatever our definition of Islamophobia, one of the most effective ways of preventing it is by good relationships between the different faith communities, exemplified by the new church/mosque twinning programme promoted by the Christian Muslim Forum? That is already established in Oldham, Rochdale, Walsall and Wolverhampton. What can the Government do to encourage those local community initiatives, which can transform the way in which a local community views Muslims in their midst? Continue reading “Bishop of Norwich asks Government to support initiatives to bring together Christian and Muslim communities”
On the 18th July 2017, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, received a written answer to a question about freedom of religion in Tajikistan.
Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, what assessment they have made of the government of Tajikistan’s commitment to freedom of religion or belief following the decision by the State Committee for Religious Affairs to ban anyone under the age of 40 from participating in the August Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. [HL430]
Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks about freedom of religion in Tajikistan following Haj pilgrimage age ban”
On 24th January 2017 UKIP Peer Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked the Government “whether, as part of their strategy against Islamist terrorism, they will encourage United Kingdom Muslim leaders to re-examine the Muslim tenets of Taqiyya and Al Hijra.” He mentioned the Archbishop of Canterbury in his follow up question. The Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, asked a question in response:
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, first, would the Minister agree that the term Taqiyya came into being at a time of terrible persecution? It did not get invented because people did not want to be difficult or awkward. Of my friends who escaped Amin’s torture, some left dressed as women. You would not say these Christians wanted simply to be deceptive; things have to be read in context. Secondly, the lecture by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was a one-hour lecture in France; he is more than happy to repeat it if your Lordships’ House wants.
Continue reading “Archbishop of York responds to question from UKIP Peer on Muslim tenets of Taqiyya and Al Hijra”
On the 12th January 2017 Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead held a debate about the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim people in Burma. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, pressed the Government to encourage the Burmese authorities to move towards full citizenship and rights for the Rohingya community, and to allow access for independent monitors to northern Rakhine.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the plight of the Rohingya Muslims is indeed desperate and the emergence in 2016 of an organised militant insurgency has only deepened the severity of that crisis. But such an escalation is hardly surprising. As the excellent report into the situation in Rakhine state by Crisis Group puts it:
“People pushed to desperation and anger, with no hope for the future, are more likely to embrace extremist responses, however counterproductive”.
The systematic persecution of the Rohingya people by the Burmese Government, most obviously manifested in the denial of citizenship to Rohingya Muslims, has created a fertile recruiting ground for militants. It is a simple human truth that people who have no say in their future and no means to participate in the democratic life of their country are liable to resort to extremism in order to achieve those means. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans presses Government on Burma and Rohingya citizenship”