The creation of religion-based groups like YMAG [Young Muslim Advisory Group] is divisive because it approaches the subject of community cohesion from the standpoint of an assumption of difference. I am tired of the politics of “the other”. It’s about time we embraced the language of “we”. We, the British people – irrespective of background – must stand on a united platform on issues such as social cohesion and extremism.
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Pity the poor faith schools. According to a pamphlet published today by the Centre for Policy Studies, penned by Cristina Odone, they are under threat as never before from “a government … aligning itself with a stridently secularist lobby”. Few apart from than Odone can have noticed this dangerous development.
The nation’s largest group of atheists and agnostics is suing President Bush, the governor of Wisconsin and other officials over the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued Friday in U.S. district court, arguing that the president’s mandated proclamations calling on Americans to pray violates a constitutional ban on government officials endorsing religion.
I read about this in Libby Purves’s Times Online column, where she wrote,
The Washington Post reports that a group of atheists in Wisconsin are suing President Bush for having a National Prayer Day. Its going to happen on the first Thursday in May and they tearfully say it will create ‘a “hostile environment for nonbelievers, who are made to feel as if they are political outsiders”.
Tearfully? Purves gets snottier about the non-religious by the week.
Rev Peter Mullen, who writes for the Northern Echo and the Telegraph, has been on the receiving end of some criticism lately for comments he made on his blog, including:
Let us make it obligatory for homosexuals to have their backsides tattooed with the slogan SODOMY CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH and their chins with FELLATIO KILLS.
In his defence, he says he was joking. This is not a surprise, as religion is a rich vein of humour – think talking snakes, women created from ribs, huge boats filled with animals, zombies who come back to life after three days and fly away, and Rowan Williams.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today published its interim advice to Government on what the long-term target should be to tackle climate change. The CCC recommended that emissions from harmful Greenhouse Gases be reduced by at least 80% by 2050. In a letter to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, the CCC said that the 80% target should apply on average across all sectors of the UK economy and is achievable at affordable cost of between 1-2% of GDP in 2050
A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye. Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.
This is a monthly update of news from International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). You can find the full versions of these news stories on the IHEU web site. To receive the monthly news update, sign up here.
HUMAN RIGHTS SPECIAL
This issue includes reports from IHEU’s delegation to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where real progress has been made, particularly on issues of freedom of expression and separation of religion and state. For other news, please scroll down.
In today’s Observer, Catherine Bennett wrote about Debbie Purdy, an MS sufferer who’d like to be able to die at a time she chooses but will need help to do so. She doesn’t want her husband to be prosecuted for helping her, which could happen, as the law stands. Mrs Purdy isn’t the first to have fought this battle. Diane Pretty is just one high profile case. She died in May 2002, having lost a legal challenge that would have allowed her husband Brian to help her commit suicide when she deteriorated.
Reading the comments after this Telegraph blog post was heartening. I’m glad to learn that Telegraph readers don’t subscribe to such nonsense.
The turning point in Britain’s relations with its Muslim population came on January 14, 1989, when Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses was burnt in public in Bradford. Now, Salman Rushdie has declared that he has nothing against true believers until their faith spills over into the public sphere and becomes “my business”. That, he must know is a fallacious distinction. It is like saying that one has nothing against a novelist as long as he does not publish his novels.
Pat Condell‘s latest video, expressing his outrage on behalf of those Muslim women who will suffer because they are forced to have their marital problems solved in a male-dominated Sharia court, was banned by YouTube for “violating the YouTube Community Guidelines”.
The British Government, in the interests of “tolerance”, appears to approve the use of Sharia courts in this country, just so long as they don’t sentence anyone to be stoned to death (one hopes), or have their hands amputated, or any of the other punishments meted out by Sharia courts in Saudi Arabia, where human rights are ignored.