Category: RELIGION DIVERSITY

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KICKING ANTISEMITISM OUT OF FOOTBALL

London Assembly member Murad Qureshi decided to act when he heard antisemitic chants at a top-flight football match The more you delve into this area the more complicated it gets. Perhaps that is a good thing. Lines blur. ­Allegiances shift. No chance to be complacent. This one is about Murad Qureshi, a member of the London Assembly, and though he doesn’t often talk about it, he’s a Muslim. “I don’t like to wear my religion on my sleeve,” he says. There are many like him. Being an Assembly member has its perks and one such occurred last ­October when he...

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LADY WARSI’S COMMENTS ON ISLAMOPHOBIA

Tory chair’s claim that anti-Islam views are now seen as normal prompts warning of some Muslims feeling ‘apart from society’… Muslim leaders tonight backed the Conservative party chairwoman, Lady Warsi, after she claimed Islamophobia had “crossed the threshold of middle-class respectability” in Britain and was now seen as normal and uncontroversial. The Muslim Council of Britain warned the spread could be “the beginning of something horrendous” in a British society with an estimated 2.4m Muslims. At Leicester University tonight Warsi claimed that parts of the press had embraced casual Islamophobia and that other parts of society including employers and even...

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FRANCE’S FALSE ‘BATTLE OF THE VEIL’

My interviews with niqab-wearing women challenge many of the myths relating to the controversy over banning the veil in France When the French debate on the full-face veil was launched in April 2009 by Communist MP André Gérin and later championed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the political stunt appeared too obvious to swallow. A government only too happy for some breathing space as it struggled to overturn its widespread unpopularity. And yet, as the testimonies of 32 niqab-wearing women I interviewed for an Open Society Foundation study reveal, many French people fell head first for the diversionary strategy and overnight...

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SARAH PALIN’S ‘BLOOD LIBEL’ BLUNDER

Sara Palin’s misappropriation of a phrase from the history of antisemitism in discussing the Giffords shooting is a staggering affront… The sense of victimhood of the Tea Party and its fellow travellers should now be well known. It was Glenn Beck, after all – the man who accused America’s first African American president of being “racist” – who last year told a rally of his followers in Washington that they had taken on the mantle of the civil rights movement. Now Sarah Palin, former vice presidential candidate, has repeated this same repellent inversion, accusing those who criticised her for her...

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RACIAL OR RELIGIOUS GROUPS COULD BE PICKED OUT FOR HI-TECH AIRPORT CHECKS

Whitehall says passenger profiling ‘in the mix’ New body scanners would pose space problem The government could allow hi-tech security searches at British airports that focus on people who fit a particular profile, prompting fears that particular racial and religious groups will face increased scrutiny, it emerged today . A Whitehall source told the Guardian passenger profiling was “in the mix” of the review into airport security ordered this week by Gordon Brown after the failed attempt to blow up a transatlantic jet on Christmas Day. The development came as airline industry chiefs warned it would be impossible to screen...

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SIKH POLICEMAN WINS £10,000 AWARD AFTER TURBAN ROW

A Sikh policeman ordered to remove his turban to do riot training was awarded £10,000 compensation today by an employment tribunal. PC Gurmeal Singh, who joined Greater Manchester police in 2004, had objected to removing his turban for the course on religious grounds. After a three-week hearing in Manchester, he was awarded £3,500 for indirect racial and religious discrimination and £6,500 for harassment after suffering psychological damage, injury to feelings and personal injury. In a meeting with a sergeant to discuss the riot training, he was told: “Can you not take that thing off … this is what you signed...

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ASSIMILATION IS NOT A DIRTY WORD

We should distrust those who use scare tactics that warn of loss of ethnic identity. Minorities today need not fear cultural oblivion… Let’s say you’re very unhappy that a high proportion of the members of your minority group are losing their identity and assimilating into British society. Would you describe that as a Holocaust? Granted you’re deeply concerned about ensuring the continuity of your group’s culture and values. The lure of the host culture is such that you look into the future and see empty prayer houses and community centres, the collapse of family traditions, the end of practices that...

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FROM SCEPTICISM TO BELIEF

When I discovered the social teaching of the Catholic church, my political urgings suddenly made sense I found my faith the way others lose theirs: by examining the presuppositions of secularism and finding them wanting. I was educated at a loving monastic school, but I don’t remember believing. The assumption at that time was that the monks were doing something quaint but anachronistic, like a tribe performing ritual dances shortly before a motorway was built across their ancestral lands. It took me years to realise that they’ll be there long after the motorway collapses. After a fractured childhood in which...

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THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN RACE AND FAITH

The ruling that a Jewish school’s admissions criteria is unlawful raises questions about the scope of race discrimination… It’s been an interesting week for the Race Relations Act. I won’t make any friends by mentioning the admissions criteria of a Jewish school – declared unlawful by the court of appeal today – in the same breath as the BNP, but both raise fundamental questions about the acceptable scope of discrimination based on race. M, a 12-year-old boy, was refused admission to JFS – a school in North London which describes itself as having “a religious character in accordance with the...

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THREE CHEERS FOR NEW EQUALITY BILL

Three cheers for a Bill of rights for the old, gay, disabled, female and taken-for-granted… We have seen times and the law change attitudes. The new Equality Bill is the next step Some people just don’t get it, do they? They fulminate against a new and elaborate government Bill, almost as a knee-jerk reaction. They rage against proposals that, in the calm light of day, taken one by one, they would endorse. They use short-sighted criticism as a means to offload all the bile swilling around the other issues of government – fiscal and monetary, business and investment. Yes, there...