Sunday 23 November 2014

Islam in Kenya, Israel and food banks

Among other things, this morning's Sunday on Radio 4 discussed the claims by senior Kenyan and Israeli politicians that the latest atrocities by Islamic terrorists signal that a "religious war" is developing. 

The programme struck a sceptical note about that. 

William Crawley discussed the situation in Kenya with BBC correspondent Anne Soy. Unfortunately, a bad phone line made it increasingly hard to catch much of what she said. William managed to make the familiar point though that "many Muslims across the world will regard the circumstances of this attack as a hideous distortion of Islam".  

The situation in Jerusalem was discussed first with Cardinal Nichols then with Cambridge University's Dr Wendy Pullan. 

William Crawley introduction to that discussion stated that "atrocities have been committed by both sides". Similarly, Cardinal Nichols worried that extremist groups on both sides are becoming the main protagonists and wanted "both governments" to show "leadership". Moral equivalence hung heavy in the air.

Dr Pullan, introduced as a Cambridge university historian and author, said she doesn't "buy into" the claims that a "religious war" is developing. She argued that the other issues - disputes over identity, land right and "a very prolonged occupation" - have not been displaced by the religious angle, though that angle remains far from unimportant. William Crawley noted that she was "calming down the rhetoric". She went on to say that, for her, Jerusalem is where "the occupation comes to a head". 

Wendy Pullan signed a letter from Cambridge academics calling for the boycott of the French multinational Veolia for being "complicit" with Israel. She's not, therefore, quite the disinterested academic Sunday would have us believe. 

The programme also featured a glowing appreciation of "the birthplace of Islam in Britain", the newly reopened Quilliam mosque in Liverpool. Britain's first mosque originally opened in 1889 (on Christmas Day). Everyone in the report was delighted that it had re-opened and rejoiced in its symbolism. 

Then it was onto Islamic extremism in British schools and a report by Trevor Barnes from one school which claims to have dealt with a plot to radicalise the curriculum. The report's intended message was meant as a positive one, showing moderate Muslims working against the extremists and defeating them. 

This morning's Sunday wasn't all about Islam though. We also heard about an apparently disreputable Hindu guru in India and the influence of gurus within India, about the delightful comic singer-songwriter Jake Thackray, about a lovely husband and wife who (together) have volunteered for over 100 years, and - a familiar Sunday theme - about 'food poverty'.

The latter took the form of an interview with Chris Mould of the Trussell Trust who argues that delays in benefit processing and low wages are resulting in record numbers of people using their foodbanks. This, of course, is politically sensitive stuff and the government hasn't taken too kindly to the Trust's previous pronouncements on the issue. William Crawley read out a government statement this morning rejecting the Trust's latest findings and Mr Mould angrily rejected their criticisms. 

We've heard quite a few times over the past couple of years on Sunday from people who share Chris Mould's position. It would be good to hear from someone who shares the government's scepticism about the Trust's analysis of 'food poverty' in Britain, though whether that will ever happen on Sunday is rather doubtful.

1 comment:

  1. People on Planet Beeboid seem to think that a misogynistic, war-orientated totalitarian ideology, based on fear, severe punishment, violence, intimidation and slavery is to be welcomed to these shores.

    Odd, really. But then Theresa May shares that bizarre opinion.

    Dan Read


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