Mon, 29 Jan 2018

Irish cabinet set to decide on historic abortion referendum

Ireland's cabinet will hold a special meeting this evening to pave the way for a historic referendum on the country's abortion laws. The prime minister has said he will campaign for the country's near-total ban on abortion to be liberalised.

Sky News

Israelis in Europe steer clear of Jewish community activities, study suggests

A survey has cast light on the religious identities of Israelis living in Europe. Nearly half said they do not participate to any degree in Jewish community life or events; 73% described themselves as secular.

The Times of Israel

‘The gathering threat to abortion rights in the US’

US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is set to hold a procedural vote this week on a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. This editorial says the fate of the ban and other anti-abortion measures will ultimately be in the hands of voters.

The New York Times

Fri, 26 Jan 2018

Experts defend Sara Khan as Muslim groups complain about her appointment

A petition to the Home Office signed by 100 Muslim organisations and scholars has called for Sara Khan to be removed from her new role as head of the Commission for Countering Extremism. Counter-terrorism and integration experts have defended Khan and praised her appointment.

The Times (£)

Opposition parties in Scotland defeat law which cracks down on free speech on religion at football

Efforts to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act have been backed in Holyrood after opposition parties lined up to defeat the Scottish Government.

The Herald

Independent reviewer says counter-terrorism laws mustn’t interfere with fundamental freedoms

A report from Max Hill, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, has said terrorists' methods of attack are diversifying. He said policing the internet and controlling social media "comes at a very high price" if it interferes with fundamental freedoms enshrined in law. The home secretary has said she will consider his proposals.

The Independent

New UK campaign backs special protections for Christian doctors

A new campaign is calling on the UK Government to give special protection to doctors and nurses who feel pressured to perform medical procedures which contradict their religious views, such as abortions and gender-change surgery.

Premier Christian Radio

Labour tells its MPs: reject call to ban Hezbollah

Labour MPs have been advised not to push for Hezbollah to be banned in Britain because party leaders want to "encourage" the terrorist group "down an effective democratic path".

The Jewish Chronicle

Pagan student complains that university party belittles her religion

A student's complaints that a 'Solstice' festival at Trinity College, Cambridge is "offensive" and "gross" are being widely reported.

The Telegraph

Alcohol to be sold legally on Good Friday in Ireland for first time since 1927

People will be able to drink legally in pubs on Good Friday after the Irish Parliament voted to lift a long-standing ban on alcohol sales on the day.

Sky News

Clear majority backs abortion on request up to 12 weeks in Ireland, poll shows

As Ireland prepares for an expected summer referendum on its abortion laws, those campaigning for repeal have a strong lead in the polls.

The Irish Times

US Senate narrowly approves Brownback for religious freedom job

The Republican-led Senate has narrowly approved Sam Brownback's bid to be US ambassador for international religious freedom. President Trump's selection of Brownback has come under fire from Senate Democrats and LGBT+ rights groups.

The Washington Post

Survey finds religious beliefs are seen as primary source of global conflict

A new survey from US News & World Report says 30% of people believe "religious beliefs" are the primary source of global conflict, more than any other option. The survey included responses from 21,000 people around the world.


Putin backs Muslim schools in Russia

Russia's president has told Muslim clergy he supports a "revival of Islamic education in Russia" as a way to tackle radicalisation and "destructive" ideas.


Thu, 25 Jan 2018

Government appoints leading campaigner to head UK anti-extremism drive

Sara Khan will lead the new Commission for Countering Extremism, the Home Office has announced. She is a prominent human rights activist and the current CEO of Inspire, which works to counter extremism and gender inequality.


Council to reconsider ban on unstunned halal meat in schools

Lancashire County Council's plans to stop its schools from serving unstunned halal meat are to be reconsidered.


David Lammy calls for coroner who doesn’t prioritise religious burials to go

Senior MPs have backed Jewish groups who are calling for the lord chancellor to replace a London coroner who refuses to prioritise religious burials.

Jewish News

Tower Hamlets mayor enters row over coroner

The mayor of Tower Hamlets has written to a coroner in north London to criticise her for withdrawing special burial arrangements for Jewish and Muslim people.

Docklands & East London Advertiser

Press regulator Ipso faces legal challenge over “Muslim problem” article

Ipso is facing the first legal challenges to its rulings, including one over a column in the Sun that referred to "the Muslim problem". Ipso ruled in October that the column did not breach accuracy or discrimination clauses in the editors' code of practice.

The Guardian

Nun apologises to Smyllum Park orphanage abuse victims

A nun in charge of a Catholic order has offered its "deepest and most sincere apologies" to anyone who may have been abused in its care at a controversial care home. She and another witness admitted a variety of historical failures had taken place at the home, including "weak" governance and record-keeping.

The National

‘The hijab fetish is leading to tokenistic representation of Muslim women’

Nesrine Malik reflects on a L'Oreal advert which featured a woman in a hijab. She says a "hijab fetish" is "beginning to dominate popular marketing as a kind of default Muslim emoji".

The Guardian

Indian cinemas brace for violence as Bollywood epic opens

Violent mobs have rampaged through several Indian cities this week in a last-ditch effort to stop the Bollywood epic Padmaavat from opening. Hindu fundamentalists have rioted amid rumours that the film features a love scene between a queen and her Muslim conqueror.

The Guardian

Christians in New Zealand to ask Parliament to put Jesus back into prayer

New Zealand Christians are planning a rally to call for Jesus's name to be reinstated in the parliamentary opening prayer, after it was omitted last month.

Premier Christian Radio

‘Hate speech isn't a crime — on Facebook or anywhere else’

A man has been charged after posting anti-Muslim statements on the Facebook page of an Islamic centre in California. This editorial says that if the US's first amendment means anything, Mark Feigin was not committing a crime.

Los Angeles Times

Wed, 24 Jan 2018

Halal slaughterhouse workers plead guilty over cruelty to sheep

An abattoir boss and three workers have pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to animals after a campaign group recorded horrific abuse taking place at a north Yorkshire slaughterhouse. Secret footage captured the workers repeatedly punching, kicking and throwing the animals, as well as hacking them to death before they were stunned.

International Business Times

‘Hijabs sexualise little girls and school heads are right to ban them’

Nimco Ali says it is not bigoted to ban the headscarf in schools, and the Department for Education should issue guidance for headteachers on the subject.

Evening Standard

Charedi leaders tell minister ‘no compromise’ on sex and gender education

Strictly Orthodox Jewish leaders have told an education minister that there will be "no compromise" with requirements to teach children about gender and sexuality.

Jewish News

Protest planned at Belfast Gilbert & George exhibition

A protest is planned over an exhibition launching this week at The MAC in Belfast. Christian fundamentalists have called the exhibition "provocative" and "unacceptable".

Belfast Live

Chief Rabbi joins coroner row over religious burials

Ephraim Mirvis has written to the lord chancellor asking him to review the case of a coroner who refuses to prioritise requests for swift Jewish and Muslim burials.

The Times (£)

Equality campaigners criticise proposed religious protections over same-sex marriage in Jersey

An equality charity has criticised a proposed clause within Jersey's draft same-sex marriage legislation that would give wedding business owners the right to refuse services to same-sex couples on the basis of religious conviction.

Jersey Evening Post

Female journalists covering Pence in Israel forced to stand behind male colleagues

The vice-president of the US, Mike Pence, visited the western wall in Jerusalem yesterday. Female journalists covering the event were given an inferior position to their male colleagues, behind a fence. Ultra-Orthodox custom encourages gender segregation at the wall.

The Washington Post

‘Unrest in Iran will continue until religious rule ends’

Haidar Khezri says that to understand Iranian voters' frustration, it is key to understand just how powerful the Ayatollah Khamenei is.

The Conversation

Pakistani cleric beats 8-year-old child to death for fleeing seminary

A Pakistani cleric has been arrested for allegedly beating to death an eight-year-old student who tried to run away from a religious seminary in Karachi, police said.

Hindustan Times

Tue, 23 Jan 2018

Sadiq Khan backs Jewish community over coroner who refuses to prioritise religious burials

The Mayor of London has backed the Board of Deputies in a row with a coroner who treats the dead equally regardless of religion. Sadiq Khan has urged Mary Hassell to show "respect for families and faith communities".

The Jewish Chronicle

‘Two Muslim cultures are emerging in Britain’

Nick Cohen says events at St Stephen's primary school in Newham reveal mainstream society's willingness to "leave behind an impoverished Muslim working class confined in its ghettos".

The Spectator (£)

Free Sunday parking for Woking churches extended – NSS quoted

Church-goers in Woking will continue to enjoy free parking on Sundays after the council executive voted to extend the policy. NSS president Keith Porteous Wood has called on the council to charge people for parking equally.

Get Surrey

Academic says Blackburn is increasingly divided after BBC Panorama show

A leading academic has said Blackburn is becoming more segregated after a BBC Panorama documentary looked at the divide between Muslim Asians and the white population in the town.

Lancashire Telegraph

Finsbury Park attacker was ‘obsessed’ with Muslims, court told

A man accused of carrying out the Finsbury Park attack had repeatedly expressed anti-Muslim sentiments and blamed Muslims for the rise in terrorism and the Rotherham child sex scandal, a court has been told.

Bristol Post

Salford man pleads guilty to 16 terrorism charges

A Muslim convert from Salford has pleaded guilty to 16 terrorism charges.


‘The pope apologises to abuse victims but again doubts them’

The pope's remarks on sexual abuse on Sunday, when he apologised but expressed doubts about the veracity of victims' claims, have prompted criticism.

The New York Times

Priest criticises Today programme presenters who called Thought for the Day inappropriate

Rev Giles Fraser, a Church of England priest and broadcaster, has blasted John Humphrys for calling the religious slot on the Today programme "deeply boring".

Daily Mail

‘Thou shalt not challenge the status quo’

A blogger in the Western Isles writes about the difficult task of taking on Sabbatarians on Lewis.

Hebrides Writer

Satanic Temple’s religious challenge to abortion law heads to Missouri Supreme Court

A lawsuit filed by a member of the Satanic Temple challenging Missouri's restrictive abortion law on religious grounds is going to the state Supreme Court today. Plaintiff Mary Doe says the law violated her rights to religious liberty.

Huffington Post

New trials shake Algeria's Ahmadi minority

Algerian authorities have stepped up trials of members of the Ahmadiyya religious minority on charges related to the exercise of their religion, Human Rights Watch has said.


Mon, 22 Jan 2018

St Stephen’s Newham backs down on hijab ban after online abuse

MPs and education experts rallied behind the best primary school in England yesterday after it came under such criticism that it reversed its ban on children under eight wearing hijabs.

The Times

East London primary school backs down over hijab ban

St Stephen's primary school in Newham, east London, hit the headlines at the weekend after it banned Muslim girls under the age of eight from wearing headscarves, to the delight of campaigners who argued it enforces religious conformity on children.

The Guardian

Unregulated schools: ‘Government must act urgently’, says Hackney Mayor

A new report by the council's Children and Young People's Scrutiny Commission (CYPSC) identifies up to 29 "yeshiva" schools in the borough which operate outside the authority of the Department for Education (DfE).

Hackney Citizen

Leading creationist Dr Nagy Iskander reappointed to sit on South Lanarkshire council education committee as unelected religious representative

A medical doctor described as one of Europe's most active creationists has been reappointed to sit on the education committee of South Lanarkshire council.

The Herald Scotland

Luton Islamic school complains over critical Ofsted report

Governors at an Islamic school have lodged a complaint over a highly critical report. Ofsted found pupils at the independent Olive Tree Primary School in Luton had to ask for toilet paper and wash their cutlery in toilet sinks, and raised concerns over extremist materials.


Church bells protected from noise complaints under new planning laws

Ministers are changing planning guidance in England for new houses after parishes whose bells have chimed for centuries were forced to comply with noise abatement orders by disgruntled neighbours who had recently moved to the area. The updated guidance shows the government is 'standing up for churches', ministers said.

Christian Today

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