August 5, 2013
The Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Scola said “during this time of prayer and fasting we hope to instill confidence and courage in promoting a dialogue and overall cooperation based on our mutual love of God and neighbor.” The message was sent to the Milanese Muslims community and its leaders to acknowledge the end of Ramadan. In the letter, Scola points out that Christians and Muslims share “similar challenges and similar responsibilities.”
Based on these challenges and responsibilities, the archbishop believes that the most significant requirement is “including notions of mutual respect without ignoring the individuality of each religion.” The message, sent in both Italian and Arabic, will be delivered by the representatives of the diocese to various places in the diocese’s territory where Muslims celebrate the Eid aliftir, during the morning of August 8.
This report examines the salaries of imams in Belgium. A 1974 law (Article 29) fixed the salaries of these men who are paid by the State. For instance, the secretary general of the executive of Muslims in Belgium has an annual salary of 43,228 Euros. An imam in the first level of ranking earns 18,653 Euros. These salaries are quite low in comparison with religious men in the Catholic church where an archbishop earns 68,371 Euros per year.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams – the titular head of the 77-million strong worldwide Anglican Church – ignited a huge controversy last week when he suggested in a lecture in the Royal Courts of Law that Britain should adopt certain aspects of Shariah law. This was done with the benign intention of integrating into British law the practices and beliefs of Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims. However, the archbishop’s apparent suggestion that Muslims could opt out of secular common law for separate arbitration and judgement in Islamic religious courts created the impression of one law for Muslims and another for everybody else. This incendiary idea (subsequently corrected by the archbishop) provoked a furor about states within states and a widespread fear that any license granted to Shariah law would also license its more extreme aspects. Unfortunately, the media storm masked the real message of the speech, which concerned the authority of the secular state and its impact on religious minorities in general and Muslims in particular.
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.