Riots in England Point to Discrimination: News Roundup

In the news this week: England’s riots uncover racial tensions, a Pew report finds a global increase in religious discrimination, Whole Foods defends their stance on Ramadan, and more.

England is currently recovering from violent riots that tore through parts of the country and claimed the lives of three young Muslim men. Members of the majority Muslim community where the men lived are decrying the lack of a police presence. The men were run over by rioters while protecting a humble row of shops and red brick mosque (St. Petersburg Times). A father of one of the victims called for prayer and a candlelight vigil rather than revenge (Malaysia Sun). Many are wondering whether the fatal attack points to a larger issue of racial tensions and discrimination. 

Fox News reports:
Worshippers are under attack in more countries as governments crack down on religion, and social hostilities grow, according to a new report. The report, by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, looked at statistics and government data spanning from 2006 to 2009, and uses such criteria as government crackdowns on religion and social hostility, including religious-motivated bias, beatings and murder, to determine which countries were the least tolerant to religion.

According to the report, Christians and Muslims experienced negative government laws and social harassment in nearly the same number of countries, with many of those countries overlapping. Japan was named the most religiously tolerant country with Brazil coming in a close second. 

Whole Foods is accused of downplaying Ramadan-geared products in the face of pressure from right-wing bloggers. In years past, such items were accompanied by small signs, but this year one internal email said the company should not risk the negative attention (Houston Press). Whole Foods responded by saying that the email was sent by one manager in one region and in no reflects the attitude or opinion of the organization (CNN).

While we’re on the topic of Ramadan, President Obama hosted an Iftar dinner this week to celebrate Ramadan. The Iftar is the dinner that breaks the holiday’s daily fast. The dinner became an annual White House tradition under President Bill Clinton and was continued by President George W. Bush. The White House says invited guests include religious and grass-roots leaders in the Muslim-American community as well as leaders of other faiths and elected officials (Washington Post). The President spoke of the positive contributions and sacrifices of American Muslims, particularly in relation to the 9/11 attacks.

“Muslim Americans were first responders,” Obama said, recounting events of September 11, “the former police cadet who raced to the scene to help and then was lost when the towers collapsed around him; the EMTs who evacuated so many to safety; the nurse who tended to so many victims; the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety.” (CNN)

In other news: