Community Cohesion in London

The news that London has its first Muslim Mayor is met with pride by some and fear by others.

The Guardian reports how British Muslims feel about Sadiq Khan becoming the city’s first Muslim Mayor.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail talks about how the Britain First leader turned his back on Sadiq Khan when he gave his victory speech.

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NHS was right to suspend Christian health worker for ‘harassing and bullying’ Muslim colleague

It’s quite an odd case this. The BBC headline certainly catches the eye: NHS Christian worker loses appeal after ‘giving book to Muslim colleague’. I’m not sure the BBC is being completely neutral in its reporting, with its use of inverted commas surely making it bias in favour of the NHS Christian.

Let’s get to the story itself; Victoria Wastaney had given a colleague a book about a Muslim woman’s encounter with Christianity and asked her to church. Miss Wasteney said that she had “no idea” she was upsetting her. Working as a senior occupational therapist at the time, Miss Wasteney, who also prayed with her colleague, was suspended for nine months and given a written warning. Why? The NHS trust had found her guilty of harassing and bullying her colleague.

In a really simplistic way it looks over the top what both the NHS trust has done and how the courts have upheld their viewpoint – surely you are allowed to discuss your faith with other people? However I don’t think it’s as simple as the BBC have reported. I know people who’ve been given a religious book to read by a colleague, with the unspoken ‘you should read this as it’ll be good for you’ making them feel uncomfortable. A one off and its just a bit annoying, but if it happened repeatedly in different ways then I reckon you should clearly tell someone to efforts at converting you or if that doesn’t work report it to your boss so that people can stop harassing you in the workplace.

“Miss we’re not allowed to say hot cross buns anymore!”

Today at school a student claimed we weren’t allowed to say ‘hot cross buns’ anymore as it would offend Muslims. I questioned where he’d got such a story from and then demonstrated that we were allowed to say both hot cross buns and Easter eggs without offending anyone.

So where had he got this story from? I’ve tried to find the story online but failed. What I did find was a newspaper article in the Express from 2007 which explained how a hospital banned hot cross buns to not offend ethnic minorities. This didn’t go down well with religious leaders saying how ludicrous it was and Muslims saying how they’re not offended by hot cross buns and often eat them themselves.

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Meanwhile in 2003 the Telegraph reported how lots of local councils were banning their schools from putting hot cross buns on the menu to avoid offending non-Christians. Again this move met with lots of criticism: The Muslim Council of Britain called the decision “very, very bizarre”. A spokesman said: “This is absolutely amazing. At the moment, British Muslims are very concerned about the upcoming war with Iraq and are hardly going to be taken aback by a hot cross bun.

“Unfortunately actions like this can only create a backlash and it is not very thoughtful. I wish they would leave us alone. We are quite capable of articulating our own concerns and if we find something offensive, we will say so. We do not need to rely on other people to do it for us. British Muslims have been quite happily eating and digesting hot cross buns for many years and I don’t think they are suddenly going to be offended.”

Making the whole furore more ridiculous is the fact hot cross buns were probably around first as a pagan snack before being adopted by the Christians in England. It wasn’t until Queen Elizabeth I that hot cross buns were pushed to only be eaten around Good Friday. You can find out more hot cross buns and Simnel Cake from a website about England’s history.

In the staffroom today we all enjoyed a hot cross bun: teachers and TA’s of all faiths and none. Nobody broke out into song though! Off school on Wednesday when my son was ill we went to rhyme time at Woking library and sang along…

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Naughty Boy

From pizza delivery man to working with Beyonce – Naughty Boy (real name Shahid Khan) – has come a long way. In an interview with the Guardian he explains how he still lives at home with his mum, a housewife, and his dad, a retired taxi driver.

“I’ve paid their mortgage off and they never have to worry again, but I’m the youngest in the family,” he says, as if the implication is obvious. “The tradition is that you live with your parents.” Khan’s older brother runs a beauty salon with his wife; his older sister is a makeup artist. The day after we speak, he’ll go to Eid prayers at the same mosque he always has, and hang out with the friends and family he grew up with. “Every time it gets more intense going back [to the mosque]. My selfie game has had to increase by 100 million per cent!” How have people changed around him? “There’s so much love, but there’s also a bit of edge – the Pakistani community is like your girlfriend being a bit miffed when you don’t spend enough time with her.”

Khan has to switch between the two worlds regularly: “America, they hold me [at the airport] for two to three hours every time. I’ll have a class-A visa sponsored by Sony, but they’ll do it and never give you a reason. You’re just there in a room, always with the same kind of people – Hispanics, Muslims, African Americans – and [immigration officials] might say, ‘Oh, it’s because of your surname’. But f******* hell, Khan?! At what point are we allowed to stop feeling bad for being Muslims?”

It’s an interesting interview, discussing among other things his once friendship with Zayn Malik formerly of One Direction.

Female doctor sentenced to death for converting to Christianity

This news stories has been making the British newspapers for the last month. Well today we find out that Meriam Ibrahim has given birth to a baby daughter whilst in prison awaiting her death penalty for marrying a Christian man and declaring herself a Christian rather than a Muslim. Read about the latest part of the story in the Daily Mail. Christian websites are also reporting on the story, and Amnesty International are campaigning ferociously against the death penalty being used.

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Where is this all taking place? Sudan in Africa. And it is unfolding now in 2014. It makes one wonder which articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are being denied. Have I missed any?

Article 16. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.