Sunday 9 August 2015

From Eritrea With Love

That Sunday essay by the BBC's Yalda Hakim (above) on the plight on Christians in repressive, secretive Eritrea (according to Pew, a Christian-majority country) was certainly interesting, though I was left somewhat puzzled as to exactly what the regime there is doing to Christians, and why. 

From what I've read elsewhere, they don't seem to be suppressing Christianity, merely making its adherents conform to certain kinds of Christianity authorised by the state - just like they do with every other religion, and much else besides. It sounds like a complete 'control freak' kind of regime. And the president (a dull, slim version of Kim Jong-un) is, apparently, an Orthodox Christian.

Anyhow, the impression was left by Yalda's report that life is tough for Christians in Eritrea and that you can find yourself in prison there if you disobey the state in the exercise of your beliefs. 

And then, straight after, came a report from the migrant camp in Calais, interviewing an Eritrean migrant (an Orthodox Christian who worships at the make-shift church that Songs of Praise is filming at this weekend). He had a sorry tale to tell, and a desire to join his friends who already love it here in England. 

Both the essay and the following report could be heard as an attempt by Sunday to make the case for Eritrean migrants to be looked upon sympathetically, maybe even granted refugee status here, rather than seen as economic migrants. Well, that's my suspicion anyway.

Sunday then held a discussion between the Bishop of Dover (the one Sunday repeatedly cited last week after he denounced David Cameron for using language like "swarm") and Douglas Murray. Although the selection of guests was balanced I wouldn't necessarily say the same for William Crawley's introductory words...
Abil, one of many from Eritrea currently encamped in Calais, speaking to John Laurenson. Let's stay with the plight of migrants seeking refuge...
...because his own language ("plight" and "seeking refuge") isn't exactly neutral, is it?

And, frankly, that segue only deepens my suspicions about what Sunday might have been up to here, given the explicit way it ties the items together as being all about "the plight of migrants seeking refuge".

Anyhow, here are William Crawley's contributions to the discussion in full. Please judge for yourselves how 'balanced' they are:
Let's stay with the plight of migrants seeking refuge, which has dominated the news for weeks now. Last weekend the Bishop of Dover Trevor Willmott hit the headlines when he challenged the government's approach to the crisis and called on political leaders here to soften their language in dealing with the challenges we face and to remember their humanity. Bishop Trevor Willmott joins us now, along with Douglas Murray, contributing editor of The Spectator. Good morning to both of you. Welcome! 
[to the Bishop] Bishop, since you focus so much on politicians not forgetting their humanity in dealing with the crisis, what would a human solution to Calais look like?
[to Douglas Murray] Douglas Murray, is there a challenge in this crisis for churches, and indeed for other faith groups, to step up to the mark?
[to the Bishop] I'll ask you in a moment Douglas about what that practical initiative might look like, but let me put to the bishop the comments that are reported in the papers today from François Crépeau, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights, who says that there are elements of racism in this 'nationalist, populist reaction' to migration. He's also described the migrants in this case as 'courageous'. Now, Bishop, this does take us into some of those language issues again? 
[to the Bishop] And your difficulty is even with the use of the word 'migrant'? 
[to the Bishop] And, Bishop, another word that's used a lot in the press coverage of Calais is the word 'refuge' or 'sanctuary' - a word with a lot of Christian resonance to it. Should Britain become a refuge for everyone who's trying to get in? 
[to the Bishop] It's not a free for all? 
[to Douglas Murray] Douglas, in twenty seconds or so, what do you think the Bishop and other Christian leaders should do? 


  1. Sometimes the BBC really does care about the plight of persecuted Christians: when it suits their agenda. How convenient and cynical.

  2. In 20 seconds? They should give up their comfortable lives in the UK, and go out to these benighted countries as missionaries, to make them better places.

    That would go down well.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.