Multi-Faith Coalition Issues Call to Reclaim St George

22 April 2013

 

A coalition of a number of religious organizations issued a statement on Monday calling for the reclamation of the patron saint of England and “demanding he becomes a representative of all English peoples.” The statement was signed by, among others, the Christian Muslim Forum, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and the Muslim Council of Britain.

 

Of particular issue for the coalition is the employment of St George as a rallying symbol for many right wing extremist groups in the U.K. The association of the Cross of St George with the Crusades has, according to the statement, led some to inappropriately use St George to legitimize ethnic and religious discrimination, particularly against the Muslim community. To counter this narrative, the coalition asks that St George be held up as a symbol of inclusivity and endeavors to “promote a new, relaxed and confident, English national identity. A place where a hijab is as welcome as bangers and mash, and no-one is attacked for their race, religion (or lack thereof) or any other belief.”

 

Some, like Fiyaz Mughal, head of Faith Matters, point out the inappropriateness of using St George as a symbol for right wing hatred. Said Mughal, “The Far Right do not realize that St George was part Greek and his mother came from the city of Lydda in Palestine.” Similarly, the statement issued by the multi-faith coalition points out that St George lived before the birth of Islam and therefore should not be employed as a symbol justifying intolerance toward Muslims.

 

St. George’s Day is celebrated in England on the 23rd of April.

Pope Francis has a model for Muslim engagement in St. Francis of Assisi

(RNS) Just as many Catholics have connected Pope Francis’ humility and austere lifestyle with that of St. Francis of Assisi, those seeking clues on the new pontiff’s approach to Christian-Muslim relations see another example in the iconic namesake.

In a little known episode in 1219, St. Francis left the camp of the crusaders besieging the walled Egyptian city of Damietta and crossed enemy lines to meet with Malik al-Kamil, the young sultan of Egypt.

“I can’t believe that the choice of his namesake is only about deference to poor people, as important and admirable as that is,” said the Rev. William Hugo, a Capuchin Franciscan brother and priest in St. Joseph, Wis. “The story of Francis seeking out Al-Kamil would surely raise up in Pope Francis the desire to reach out and be in relationship with those suffering a separation or (who are) excluded.”

“We’re seeing the church interpret Francis in modern times as a bridge,” said Paul Moses, author of “The Saint and the Sultan,” a 2009 book which explores St. Francis’ pivotal engagement with Islam. “To Muslims ears, the choice of Francis for a name should sound good.”

Andrea Stanton, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver, said peace was Francis’ motive.

Müzeyyen Adores Christmas: A German-Turkish Love Story

23 December 2010

When they founded their Christian-Muslim family, the Dreessens had no reference points. But they encountered plenty of resistance from relatives. At home, there was more heated discussion over how to bring up the children than on the subject of faith. These days, things are much more relaxed.

The prospects for this marriage were hardly favourable. When a friend, acting on behalf of Thomas Dreessen, officially sought permission from the Turkish father for his daughter’s hand, the father turned pale and the daughter made a hasty exit through the back door. She went to ground for a few weeks, staying at a girlfriend’s house. The family wanted to prevent her from entering into a marriage with a Christian German at all costs. When the couple told an Imam of their marriage plans, he warned: “Your children will go to hell.” Many of the couple’s friends, both German and Turkish, held a sceptical view of the relationship.

Müzeyyen Dreessen wants to take the sting out of the Imam’s words uttered all those years ago. By “hell”, she says, he was referring to the dilemma that can face children when their parents have two different religions. Her husband also defends the Imam: “His warning is justified. Some couples compete with each other for recognition of what they see is the correct religion. Or they do away with religion altogether. That doesn’t apply to us.” He looks over to his wife, who is standing at the stove. In any case, she says, the Imam said something else: “For every wall that the Prophet puts up, there is a door.” In other words: There is a solution.

German Catholics Must Help Muslim Migrants Integrate into Society More

The Catholic Church in Germany must help Muslim migrants integrate into society, but the Church also can learn from these recent newcomers, said the general secretary of the German bishops’ working group on relations with Muslims. “We can learn a lot from the Muslims: about piety, about hospitality or about the education of children within the family,” said the bishops’ official, Peter Hunseler, during the German Catholic Church assembly last week. The assembly’s Christian-Muslim dialogue program sponsored more than 30 events about understanding Islam and relations between Catholics and Muslims. The Christian-Muslim events often took up the main theme of the Katholikentag, “Justice in the Sight of God,” and included a series on common approaches to justice for women and homosexuals. The center also offered early morning mysticism, joint Christian-Muslim Bible study, midday services, study sessions in the afternoon and cultural events in the early evening.