Religion in Review 10 May 2013

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Monday 6th May

Violence in Bangladesh

Following Bangladesh’s highly controversial war tribunals, and the subsequent Shahbag vigil (read more about it here), there have been a number of protests by opposition groups. Jamaat-e-Islami (whose leaders have been arrested and put on trial) as well as Hifazat-e-Islam (a more recent lobby group) are behind the large mass protests. The Awami Government responded with deadly force. Media outlets reported between 15 and 40 killed, and a number of eye-witnesses claimed the deaths were into the hundreds. Bangladesh is not North Korea and has relative freedom of press, but the partisan nature of politics and sharp divide between secular and religious has led to fragmented and usually biased reporting emerging from the country often echoed by more reliable news outlets.

Tuesday 7th May

Church of Scotland challenges Israel

A Church of Scotland report titled the Inheritance of Abraham has put tension on the Church’s relationship with Jewish leaders. The report commented that the Bible should not be read to mean that Jews have a right to Palestine or the Levant as the theological meanings may be numerous and more metaphorical. The report also opened up the possibility of joining boycotts and disinvestments of Israel. Since then, Jewish leaders have lobbied the Church of England leading to an updated report on the Church of Scotland’s website clarifying that at no point does the Church of Scotland deny Israel’s ‘right to exist’.

Google vs Religion

The Future of Britain report conducted a survey on the British public and their levels of trust in various organisations. Perhaps unsuprisingly, the NHS was ranked the most trustworthy (37% felt the NHS had their best interests at heart) whereas Google and religious institutions both came in at 17%. Other findings from the survey revealed politicians are less trusted than utility companies and supermarkets are the fourth most trustworthy of organisations in the UK.

Wednesday 8th May

Gitmo Hunger Strikes Continue

Obama’s first presidential decree was the closure of Guantanamo Bay. One term over and it is still open. 100 prisoners (of 166) have been refusing food in protest over their treatment, continued incarceration without charges, and the way in which their Qurans were disrespected during a series of raids.

Re-Writing the King James Bible

king james bibleA New York Christian is finishing his handwritten copy of the King James Bible after four years of intense work. Phillip Patterson took on the project after being inspired by the Islamic tradition of writing out the Quran by hand, a task often used to demonstrate perfect memorisation of the Quran. Mr Patterson will complete his copy of the Bible in St Peters Presbyterian Church in New York on the 11th May at a public ceremony.

Thursday 9th May

Imran Khan injured during campaigns

The Pakistani general elections take place on the 11th May 2013. The three key parties are the Pakistani People’s Party led by Bilawal Bhutto Zadari, the Pakistan Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistani Movement for Justice) led by former cricketer Imran Khan. Despite being underdogs, popular support for Imran Khan and his party is wide and growing. During the election campaign, he fell from a podium and suffered concussion.

Dalai Lama speaks out against Islamophobic violence

Speaking at Maryland University, the Dalai Lama spoke out against the Buddhist-led violence against Muslims in Myanmar. The spiritual leader’s silence has been subject to criticism, especially following violent riots in March and April. The Dalai Lama said it was ‘unthinkable’ to kill in the name of religion.

Friday 10th May

Sikh group offers $1 million for testimony against Sajjan Kumaranti-sikh riots

In 1984, following the assassination of India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguard, India witnessed one of its most barbaric moments of inter-communal strife. Hindus took to the streets and, in what is now called the ‘anti-Sikh riots’, killed over 3000 Sikhs. Trials are currently taking place and thus far three have been convicted with life sentences and a further two with lesser prison terms. Sajjan Kumar, then an Indian politician, was implicated in inciting mobs to attack Sikh communities. The US-based lobby group have offered $1 million in the hope that it will break the wall of silence that has surrounded the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

…and a round up of our favourite blogs: –

Joseph Harker argues ‘It’s time to face up to the problem of sexual abuse in the white community’ in a satirical article that challenges the presumed racial stereotypes applied in other cases.

Lucia Hulsether asks Can Interfaith Dialogue Cure Religious Violence?  in a column that seeks provides a deeper look at what interfaith can, and should be about and perhaps more importantly, what it shouldn’t be.

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About Karen Willows

Karen Willows is a researcher and freelance journalist. She has a BA in Religion and Geography and an MA in Social Science Research.