70th UN General Assembly September 2015

There are roughly 150 world leaders meeting in New York this week for the 70th UN General Assembly. Discussions are probably going to be dominated by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and the Civil War in Syria. Today President Obama from the USA spoke to the Assembly. The full speech lasts 38 minutes. He starts by praising the UN and comparing how the world is today compared to when the UN began just after World War II.

The BBC have a live webfeed to keep you completely up-to-date with what people are saying at the Assembly.  Moreover they have an excellent short clip which explains the purpose of the UN General Assembly.

A few days ago the UN was in the news when the Pope (leader of Catholics) visited them and gave a speech.

He even had Shakira sing a version of John Lennon’s Imagine.

Perhaps you prefer the original…it starts at about 50 seconds in.

Vote on your favourite!

OH DEAR – Have we jinxed Afghanistan by talking about it in class?

Like so often is the case, we talk about something in class and that day or 24 hours later, it suddenly finds itself in the news. Nelson Mandela’s death, large earthquakes, abortion stories, ISIS spreading their power and Russia playing a more major role, the power of the UN, malaria tablets for the British military… all strangely occurring after a chat in class.

Well now we have the respective peace in Afghanistan being put under pressure with the Taliban taking control of the northern city of Kunduz. The BBC are reporting that Kunduz which is in a strategic location for transport around northern Afghanistan is currently experiencing fierce fighting between the Taliban and government forces trying to win it back.

Baby Buell makes it to one year old

An amazing good news story is being reported in different newspapers today about a little America boy called Jaxon who’s defied the odds and made it to his first birthday.

Jaxon Buell1

He was born with part of his brain and skull missing which meant the doctors said it was likely he wouldn’t survive. The Daily Mail says that his parents had been told during the pregnancy about their son’s illness and small chance of survival but being strong Christians meant they chose not to abort the baby (foetus).

jaxon-strong-buell

“Who are we to decide? We were given a child, we are given a chance and we have to be his voice.” His parents said in the interview. In the last year he has become a minor social media sensation, attracting over 100,000 likes on his page “Jaxon Strong” and has raised over $57,000 (£37,500) through his GoFundMe page to pay for his ongoing medical care.

A short clip on YouTube shows the little boy talking and starting to walk…

Violent murder of Atheists in Bangladesh

The BBC are reporting the stories of Bangladeshi bloggers who’ve been violently targeted by a mysterious terrorist group for atheist viewpoints. There are some who think the Islamic militant groups are connected to Al Qaeda.

The AFP news agency reported about a protest march by Bangladeshi Islamists who shouted for Atheist bloggers to be killed for defaming (hurting the reputation) of Islam.

Does this type of action by the Islamist militants meet the criteria of Just War for the lesser Jihad that we’ve been learning about in Year 11 classes?

What can justify Jihad?

There are a number of reasons, but the Qur’an is clear that self-defence is always the underlying cause.

Permissable reasons for military Jihad:

  • Self-defence
  • Strengthening Islam
  • Protecting the freedom of Muslims to practise their faith
  • Protecting Muslims against oppression, which could include overthrowing a tyrannical ruler
  • Punishing an enemy who breaks an oath
  • Putting right a wrong

What a Jihad is not, a war is not a Jihad if the intention is to:

  • Force people to convert to Islam
  • Conquer other nations to colonise them
  • Take territory for economic gain
  • Settle disputes
  • Demonstrate a leader’s power

The War in Afghanistan 2001 – 2014

We only have one lesson in class to study the Afghanistan War, so that we have it as a case study for our GCSE exam.

The BBC have a Question and Answer article all about Afghanistan which would be useful to read in your own time.

If you feel like you want to understand it better then watch some of these documentaries… ranging from three minutes to one hour long. The first one is from the BBC (British), the second from CNN (USA) and finally it’s a Canadian report.

Hajj Stampede Kills Hundreds

Thanks to Joe Brown for drawing our attention to this news story.

Just after we’ve been discussing Hajj with Year 11 and how it is a pilgrimage to ask for forgiveness to Allah, this happens. It was even discussed in class about the huge numbers of people who are doing Hajj this week and you’ve got to be careful of the crushes. It had been thought that health and safety at all the main points of the pilgrimage had been improved in recent years. Seemingly not.

In class we watched this informative video about American pilgrims going on Hajj and how they wanted to seek forgiveness.