Islam’s ability to empower is a magnet to black British youths

A seminar was hosted last month by Christians Together in England to consider ways to “stem the flight of black British youths to Islam and radicalisation”. In an unprecedented move, Muslims were invited to attend – and they did. Together, both faith groups discussed the reasons why a growing number of young black people are choosing Islam in preference to Christianity. According to this morning’s BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, one in nine black Christian men are converting to Islam.

The passivity that Christianity promotes is perceived as alien and disconnected to black youths growing up in often violent and challenging urban environments in Britain today. “Turning the other cheek” invites potential ridicule and abuse whereas resilience, strength and self-dignity evokes respect and, in some cases, fear from unwanted attention.

 

Islam holds there is only one God – Allah who does not share his divinity with anything. This made sense and is easy to comprehend. Islam recognises and reveres the prophets mentioned in Judaism and Christianity, therefore a natural and final progression of these earlier religions. The religious guidelines provide spiritual and behavioural codes of conduct with role models such as Malcolm X only helping to reinforce the perception that Islam enabled the empowerment of one’s masculinity coupled with righteous and virtuous conduct as a strength, not a weakness.

 

My personal experiences are supported by academic research on the same topic: Richard Reddie, who is himself a Christian, conducted research on black British converts to Islam. His studies reveal that the majority of young people interviewed converted from Christianity to Islam for similar reasons as mentioned above. Islam’s way of life and sense of brotherhood were attractive to 50% of interviewees, whereas another 30% and 10% respectively converted because of the religion’s monotheistic foundations and the fact that, holistically, the religion “made sense” and there were “no contradictions”.

 

The author’s research examined whether such converts were more susceptible to violent radicalisation or more effective at countering it. The overwhelming conclusion points to the latter – provided there are avenues to channel these individuals’ newly discovered sense of empowerment and identity towards constructive participation in society, as opposed to a destructive insularity which can be exploited by extremists. Many Muslim converts – not just black British ones – will confirm the sense of empowerment Islam provides, both spiritually and mentally. It also provides a context within which such individuals are able to rise above the social, cultural and often economic challenges that tend to thwart their progress in today’s society. Turning the other cheek therefore is never an option.

Italian man arrested for Anti-Islam graffiti while on vacation in France

August 14, 2013

An Italian was arrested during the night in Avignon, southern France, because he smeared the walls near the entrance to the historic Palace of the Popes with anti-Islam writings. The Le Parisien reported today, citing the deputy prosecutor of Avignon, Thierry Villardo. The man, in his thirties, has been identified thanks to surveillance cameras and he was stopped as he prepared to deface other walls with slogans against Muhammad. At least seven other similar writings were found in the city.

It seems that the young Italian has had an altercation with some men of North African origin before committing the act. “He had a fight with them” said the deputy attorney Villardo “and went to buy some spray paint, he is not necessarily a chronic racist and xenophobe; he was really angry.” The man is currently in police custody. The town hall of Avignon, the Papal Palace and the Bank of France have all filed a complaint against him, according to Le Parisien. Even the Observatory of Islamophobia in the French Council of the Muslim Faith has announced its intention to file a complaint for incitement to racial hatred.

Appearing in the afternoon before the court of Avignon, the tourist smeared the walls of the Palace of the Popes with anti-Islam writings. The ANSA reported the deputy prosecutor of Avignon, Thierry Villardo, stated that the young man, who was arrested on the night between Monday and Tuesday in Avignon, “regrets his action.” Francesco Cattaneo, 31, from the province of Como, arrived in Avignon on Monday morning; he was to continue to Spain, after a brief stay in Avignon.

Cattaneo, confirmed the deputy prosecutor suspicions that he acted “in anger” after having a dispute with a group of people from North Africa. From a psychological report it was found that the 31 year old had a “difficult past,” in the words of the deputy prosecutor, and that “he was not in full possession of his faculties.” Cattaneo could spend up to seven years in prison.

Double desecration
Writing insults to Muhammad on the walls of the Palace of the Popes of Avignon, the Italian tourist, who is in custody in the southern city of France, has committed a “double desecration” against the Prophet and against a symbol of Christianity said Mohamed Moussaoui, honorary president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith. The desecration “of the first name of the prophet, the greatest symbol of Islam, and also the desecration of one of the major places of Christianity,” said Moussaoui on radio France. He also condemned the act as “odious,” calling on Muslims to remain “vigilant but calm, know that extremism can thrive only in an atmosphere of tension.” Several acts added to the anti-Islam rhetoric in recent days. Just three days ago, a soldier was arrested while planning an attack on the mosque in Venissieux, a suburb of Lyon.

Among Muslims, Internet Use Goes Hand-in-Hand With More Open Views Toward Western Culture

Around the world, Muslims who use the internet are much more likely than other Muslims to have a favorable opinion of Western movies, music and television and are somewhat more likely to see similarities between Islam and Christianity, according to an analysis of a recent Pew Research Center survey.  

The survey of Muslims in 39 countries across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa finds that a median of 18% use the internet in their home, school or workplace. However, internet use varies widely across the countries surveyed, ranging from just 2% of Muslims in Afghanistan to a majority (59%) in Kosovo.

In the 25 countries where there are enough Muslims who use the internet to permit more detailed analysis, the survey finds that internet users tend to be younger and better educated than Muslims who are not online. They also include a somewhat higher proportion of men. But statistical analysis shows that internet use is strongly associated with Muslims’ attitudes toward Western popular culture even when factors such as age, education and gender are taken into account. Holding all else equal, Muslims who use the internet are much more inclined to like Western movies, music and television, and they are somewhat less inclined to say that Western entertainment is harming morality in their country.

The survey also finds that Muslims who use the internet are somewhat more likely than those who are not online to see commonalities between their own faith and Christianity. Statistical analysis shows that internet use is associated with a more open attitude toward Christianity even when controlling for demographic factors such as age, education, gender, level of religious observance and participation in interfaith activities.

When it comes to interpretations of their own faith, however, internet use does not appear to make much difference in Muslims’ views. Regardless of whether they use the internet or not, majorities of Muslims in most countries surveyed say that there is only one true way to interpret their faith and that Islam alone leads to eternal life in heaven. Statistical analysis finds little difference between internet users and non-users on these questions.

In nearly every country where analysis is possible, Muslim internet users are more likely to say they enjoy Western movies, music and television. Differences in opinion between Muslim internet users and those who do not use the internet are particularly wide in Kyrgyzstan (where internet users are 35 percentage points more likely to have a positive view of Western entertainment), Senegal (+32), Russia (+32), Indonesia (+31), Tajikistan (+31), Bosnia-Herzegovina (+30), Azerbaijan (+30) and Tunisia (+30).

 

Census figures show Christianity in sharp decline while belief in Islam dramatically increases

A fresh analysis of the 2011 census has shown that Christian faith in the UK is declining rapidly amongst the British-born population, whilst belief in Islam has dramatically increased. A report published by the Office for National Statistics revealed that the percentage of people following a Christian faith dropped from 71.7 per cent in 2001 to 59.3 per cent in 2011. More than one in 10 under 25s in the UK now describes themselves as Muslim. Figures for Christianity were boosted however by the 1.2 million foreign-born Christians residing in the UK, such as Polish Catholics and evangelicals from countries such as Nigeria. Meanwhile, the percentage of the people who have no religion rose from 14.8 per cent to a quarter of the population. Even the kind of belonging measured by baptism has diminished, so that there are now about half as many every year as there were in 1980. The median age of Christians in this country is 45; the median age of Muslims is 25. The ONS does not distinguish among different Christian denominations any more than the census did. But it’s finding that the number of British-born Christians fell by 15% in the 10 years between 2001 and 2011 while the number of foreign-born ones increased by 1.2 million is also really bad for the Church of England. Hardly any of the immigrants were Anglicans, or became Anglican. In south London this is obvious from the profusion of Pentecostal churches, mostly nowadays West African. Catholic immigrants have tended to remain Catholics, of course, which has disguised the fall in native-born numbers much better than happened in the Church of England. At the same time the number of Muslims in England and Wales surged by 75 per cent – boosted by almost 600,000 more foreign born followers of the Islamic faith. While almost half of British Muslims are under the age of 25, almost a quarter of Christians are over 65.

Religion Census 2011 Summary

Patriarch Bartholomew, more ‘freedom’ to Christians in Islamic countries

“The situation of Christians in some Muslim countries is in need of major improvements to allow more freedoms ‘and chances’ similar to those that Muslims enjoy in Christian countries” said Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who is now visiting Milan during the seventeenth anniversary of the Edict of Constantine. In the keynote address delivered with the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, both focused on the need “to aim for peace between Islam and Christianity,” abandoning the agonizing wounds of the past.

Christians, Muslims & Jesus by Mona Siddiqui: review

Sameer Rahim applauds a stimulating dialogue between great faiths.

 

Despite that in some parts of the world you find violent conflict between Christians and Muslims, the Muslim theologian Mona Siddiqui touches on a central doctrinal difference between the two largest monotheisms: the true nature of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

When Mohammed announced his new religion in the early seventh century, he claimed to be walking the same path as Old Testament prophets such as Abraham, Moses – and Jesus. The Koran relates that Jesus was born to a virgin called Mary, preached God’s word, gathered disciples and performed miracles. He was condemned to death by crucifixion, the Koran says, but was saved through divine intervention and ascended to heaven without dying. Jesus will return to Earth, according to Islamic tradition as the Messiah.

 

The crucial difference from the Christian narrative is that for Muslims, Jesus is emphatically not the Son of God.

 

Siddiqui raises the point that Islam might well have preserved aspects of theologically unorthodox Christianity. In Siddiqui’s final chapter she bravely questions what the crucifixion might mean to a Muslim.

Oasis, a Center to support a dialogue between Christians and Muslims

April 25, 2013

A plaque commemorating Constantine’s edict on religious freedom is in the Palazzo San Giorgio in a church on via Torino which was built on the ruins of an ancient imperial palace in Milan. Oasis will have its headquarters in Milan; the foundation was founded in Venice in 2004 by Cardinal Angelo Scola. The objective is to promote an understanding between Christians and Muslims, to create spaces for dialogue, and to document the cultural importance that Christianity has had in the history of Islam. And vice versa, a hot topic in Milan, the city where the relationship between Christians and Muslims is not always easy. The opening took place on Monday, April 29 at 6:30pm in Piazza San Giorgio.

Princess condemns Saudi Arabia paralysis sentence

With the UK urging Saudi Arabia not to go ahead with the paralysing of a Saudi man who was given the unusual punishment by a court for an attack which left another man paralysed, a sentence said to be an implementation of Islamic law. Although Amnesty has compared the sentence to torture. It was in speaking to Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight that Princess Basmah Bint Saud, of the Saudi royal family, condemned the sentence. She went on to say that: “Whether that be Christianity, Islam or other religions… we have misunderstood the core of humanity itself. It is all about being human… even in our punishments.”

Conference in Cuneo Discusses Christianity, Islam and the Secular State

9 February 2013

Cuneo, in the region of Piedmont, held an “Islam, Christianity, and Constitution: Christians, Muslims and the Secular State” conference at the Association of Saint Thomas. The meeting was organized by the Association of Paths of Peace, The Mambre Community, Santos-Milani Training Center, School of Peace in Boves an the Islamic Community Association of Cuneo.

The meeting comes as a result of the 11th anniversary of Ecumenical day of dialog between Islam and Christianity, the day is celebrated on the 27 of October.

The meeting based on Ecumenical day themes will focus on the following: the Italian constitution this year marks its 65 anniversary and its basic principles. Second, the conference will focus on Islam in Italy especially the struggles of becoming “Italian Islam” despite 40 years of Muslims living in Italy. Third, Italian issues with the construction of Mosques best exemplified by the 2010 Genoa case.

Investigation Looks For Muslim Bias In Texas Schools, Finds Christian Bias Instead

A bizarre chain email sent to district and school board officials in the Dallas area this October titled “IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM” inspired a recent investigation of “Islamic bias” in the district’s curriculum. Despite the outlandish claims, the district requested that an official from the organization that created the curriculum to respond. The results of a 72-page investigation done by the organization were not surprising: there’s a Christian bias in schools, not a Muslim one.

 

The official told the board that a bias toward Islam didn’t exist, even mentioning that “she hired a ‘very socially and fiscally conservative’ former social studies teacher who ‘watches Glenn Beck on a regular basis’ to seek out any Islamic bias in CSCOPE [the curriculum].” She “asked her to look for anything she would consider the least bit controversial.” The Dallas Morning News has the details of an investigation that mentioned “every religious reference in the CSCOPE curriculum, from kindergarten to high school”:

 

– Christianity got twice as much attention in the curriculum as any other religion. Islam was a distant second.

 

– The Red Crescent and Boston Tea Party reference mentioned in the email were nowhere in CSCOPE’s curriculum, although they may have been in the past.

 

– If there was any Islamic bias in CSCOPE it was “bias against radical Islam.”

This isn’t the first time Texas has debated the perceived presence of too much Islam in its school books. In 2010, the Texas Board of Education banned any books that “paint Islam in too favorable of a light.” The reasoning was head-scratching: “the resolution adopted Friday cites ‘politically-correct whitewashes of Islamic culture and stigmas on Christian civilization’ in current textbooks and warns that ‘more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the US public school textbook oligopoly.’” A Texas based civil liberties advocate said at the time that “the members who voted for this resolution were solely interested in playing on fear and bigotry in order to pit Christians against Muslims.”