Fear of Muslims has stirred up division between neighbours in Britain in a way not seen in living memory, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned. The Most Rev Justin Welby said tensions had “seeped into our society” threatening to fracture multiculturalism by widening “cracks” between different communities into seemingly insurmountable barriers.
Britain, he said, is now “living in a time of time of tension and fear” in which extremists try to marginalise the mainstream while secularists wish to turn religion itself into an activity like sex, which should be “between consenting adults in private”.
He told a gathering organised by Muslim leaders in Cardiff that mainstream elements in all major religions must make their message more “exciting and beautiful” to drown out extremists. It is not enough, he said, simply to condemn hate preachers who seek to radicalise vulnerable young people without putting forward a powerful alternative message.
And while emphasising parallels between Christianity and Islam – including remarking that they share strikingly similar beliefs about the justification for war – he said it was important not to “gloss over” fundamental differences.
He insisted that many faiths, not just Islam, have a problem with radicalisation.
And, significantly, he said Christians should not deny “accountability” for the role of their faith in “many atrocities” over the centuries including recent decades.
His remarks came in an address to an interfaith dinner at Cardiff City Hall hosted by the Muslim Council of Wales. Among the guests were the heads of the Anglican churches of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the first time all four primates of the British Isles had met in one place.
The Archbishop echoed Mr Kidwai’s remarks telling the audience: “We are living in a time of tension and fear. That fear has seeped into our society in a way that is new to me in my lifetime and begins to work at the cracks between us in our diversity, deepening them into barriers between us. The counter-narrative must be so exciting and so beautiful that it defeats the radicalisers with their message of hate, despair and destruction.”
August 8, 2014
The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on ministers to offer asylum to Christians driven from their homes by Islamic jihadists rampaging through Iraq. The Most Rev Justin Welby backed calls by a number of bishops who said Britain should offer sanctuary to thousands of Iraqis facing violence and death. His intervention comes days after France said it was “outraged by the abuses” in the country and ready to give asylum to those who needed it. The Archbishop said: “I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.” The flight of Christians in the face of Islamic State has been described by the vicar of Baghdad’s Anglican Church, Canon Andrew White, as bringing “the end of Christianity very near” in Iraq.
In 2003, before the allied invasion, there were about a million Christians, in Iraq. About three quarters have left since amid the civil war and targeted attacks by jihadists. In a statement issued on Friday from the Philippines, where he was visiting fellow bishops, Archbishop Welby warned that Christians and other minorities were facing “terrible suffering”. “What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
He added that the international community needed to challenge a “culture of impunity” which has allowed atrocities to take place. Any human rights abuses should be documented so that perpetrators can be prosecuted in the future, he said. He warned that the plight of those in Iraq was part of an “evil pattern around the world” where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted because of their faith.
The Archbishop of Canterbury declared that he does not want to live in a “monocultural” society as he condemned “unacceptable” and “inexcusable” attacks on Muslims over recent weeks.
The Most Rev Justin Welby spoke of “evil actions”, whether the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby earlier this year or attacks on mosques, as he addressed an inter-faith audience gathered at Featherstone High School in Southall, west London.
He added: “I want, as I have already done, to acknowledge the pressure that our Muslim friends and colleagues have faced over the last few weeks. There have been terrible attacks; I know that the vast majority of those in this country and especially people of faith would join me in condemning utterly any act of violence against anyone because of their faith.
24 June 2012
Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury, has had good relations with the British Muslim community during his nine years of service. He was vociferous critique of the war on Iraq and signed a petition in 2002 to oppose the war. He also, in 2006 wrote a letter to Tony Blair on behalf of 114 Church of England bishops to warn him for the misconduct of the occupation troops in Iraq. He opposed the French headscarf ban and spoke against the media outrage against the Muslim community after the London bombing in July 2005.
In his forthcoming book entitled Faith in the Public Square, Bishop Rowan harshly criticized the present and previous UK governments for their domestic and foreign policies including Labour party’s legislation in 2006 that made incitement to religious hatred a criminal offense. According to Bishop Rowan the legislation has drawn considerable attention to the Muslim minority and gave rise to Islamphobic sentiments. He further called Muslims living in the UK for greater integration.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, admitted yesterday that the Christian and Muslim faiths are so fundamentally different that both sides are still unable to understand each other properly. Dr Williams, speaking at an interfaith conference in Cambridge, said that it was possible for Islam and Christianity, two of the three Abrahamic faiths, to agree around the imperatives to love God and “love your neighbour”. Muslims and Christians agree about the need to alleviate both poverty and suffering, he said. But at a theological level there was still massive disagreement. Dr Williams contrasted the “self-emptying” aspect of Christianity, a faith built on the failure and weakness of its founder through his death on the cross, to the Islamic narrative of “trial and triumph”. The Archbishop said: “Even in its narratives of Jesus, [Islam] questions or sidelines the story of the death of Jesus as Christians tell it – an issue that is still a live one as between our faiths.” He said that the two faiths’ concepts of martyrdom were also different. In Christianity, martyrdom was a way of validating failure while in Islam, it constituted part of the “struggle” in fighting evil. “And how far an Islamic ethic would see love of neighbour as essentially involving the kind of self-abnegation privileged by Christianity is a point worth exploring,” Dr Williams said. The Archbishop was criticised earlier this year following a BBC interview in which he suggested that the adoption of some aspects of Islamic sharia law in the UK seemed “unavoidable”. His lecture in Cambridge, however, illustrated a clear understanding of the issues at stake between the two faiths. Dr Williams did not in any form come across as an apologist for Islam but as someone using his formidable intellect in an attempt to bridge the divide. Dr Williams was one of a number of leading Christian and Islamic scholars addressing the conference, A Common Word at Cambridge University. It marked the first anniversary of the publication of A Common Word Between Us and You, a letter from 138 Islamic scholars, clerics and intellectuals promoting understanding and tolerance between the two faiths. Ruth Gledhill reports.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, convened the seventh Building Bridges Seminar in Rome this week. The interfaith dialogue event has brought together Muslim and Christian scholars since 2002, when hosted at Lambeth Palace by Dr George Carey, the then Archbishop of Canterbury. The seminar studied Biblical and Qur’anic texts, with a view to exchanging not just theological ideas, but scholarly techniques. A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “What we see with the Muslims is they actually get quite excited about how we do our theology. You see them playing with an idea and it really is fascinating.” The seminar, which is organised in partnership with Georgetown University, ran from Tuesday to Thursday.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has sought to defuse the bitter row over what he appeared to claim was the unavoidable adoption of sharia law in the UK by conceding that his controversial comments may have been unclear and “clumsily deployed”. Whilst taking full responsibility for his part in the highly damaging episode, which resulted in calls for him to resign and sparked a disagreement with Downing Street, Dr Rowan Williams fell short of offering a full-blown apology and refused to back down. Instead he insisted that the Church of England had a “considerable” responsibility to other faith groups and asserted that it was not “inappropriate” to raise issues surrounding Islam or other religions – comments that were immediately welcomed by Muslim leaders. Departing from his intended remarks at the opening of the General Synod in London yesterday, Dr Williams said: “I must of course take responsibility for any unclarity either in that text or in the radio interview and for any misleading use of words that has helped to cause distress or misunderstanding among the public at large or especially my fellow Christians.” Jonathan Brown reports.
With his plea for recognition of the Muslim legal system in Britain, the archbishop of Canterbury has outraged his people. In doing so, he has driven a wedge into the center of a passionate national debate. He should have known what he was getting into. Rowan Williams, 57, the archbishop of Canterbury, is an educated man, a noted poet and a brilliant theologian. But he’s never been a very skilled politician. And so it happened. Last Thursday, Williams stood before 1,000 spectators in London’s Royal Courts of Justice. He’s a man with a white beard and white hair sprouting in all directions. In his warm baritone voice, he spoke about the relationship between civil and religious law. It was a complicated speech, one that wasn’t easy to understand. But it ignited a raging debate. A day later, The Sun tabloid labeled him a “a dangerous threat to our nation,” and the Daily Express wrote that he had capitulated to Muslim extremists. The tabloids used words such as “outcry” and “rage” to_describe the public reaction and called for him to resign. Mathieu von Rohr reports.
When the Archbishop of Canterbury announced last month that British authorities should accommodate Sharia, he placed the Anglican church in the middle of a heated controversy. For many Brits, sharia is associated with amputation, whipping and stoning for even small infractions. Though others reject these associations, the prospect of a “plural jurisdiction” in which Muslims could choose to resolve disputes in secular or Muslim courts is no less appalling. The Archbishop’s statements have triggered debate about whether individuals have the option to “opt out” of secular institutions, as would be the case with the establishment of a parallel sharia legal system in Britain. This debate is closely watched by other Western countries who will be affected by Britain’s precedent.
The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, is under police protection after he and his family received death threats over his claim that parts of Britain had become no-go areas for non-Muslims The Bishop is also facing anger from the most senior members of the Church of England hierarchy for his comments on Islam. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has made Islam a priority of his archiepiscopate and set up a Muslim-Christian forum to promote relations between the faiths in 2006. One senior cleric told The Times yesterday: The Bishop of Rochester is in effect threatening to undo everything we have done. The cleric said that some congregations in cities such as Leicester, where interfaith work was a priority, were increasingly wary of donating money towards this work. Church leaders in towns with a large Muslim population were anxious that relations with their neighbors were being undermined