Muslims and Christians sharing a church in England: News Roundup

In the news this week: Christians and Muslims share a space to pray, Muslim leaders say anti-Muslim reaction to bombing neutral, and other stories.


The familiar sounds of Christian hymns have been replaced with Islamic prayer in the chapel this Friday lunchtime and the church priest with the imam from the neighbouring mosque.

Muslims from the Syed Shah Mustafa Jame Masjid mosque next door share this church with Christian worshippers up to five times a day.

Church leaders believe this may be the only place in the country where Christian and Muslim worshippers pray side by side. BBC

It looked like the backlash was starting even before the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing were identified as Muslim.

Hours after the explosions, a Bangladeshi man told police he was dubbed an "Arab" and beaten in New York. A veiled Muslim woman in a city near Boston said she was struck in the shoulder and called a terrorist. When the public learned days later that the FBI was pursuing two Muslim men of Chechen descent, American Muslims feared the worst.

But the worst didn't happen.

Muslim civil rights leaders say the anti-Islam reaction has been more muted this time than after other attacks since Sept. 11, which had sparked outbursts of vandalism, harassment and violence.  Huffington Post

Research shows that people around the world have more religious restrictions now than in 2006 and therefore have less religious freedom than in previous years, according to Pew Research.

In a recent Tedx presentation, Brian Grim, a leading expert on global religion and religious freedom, provides an overview of the freedom of the world’s populations to practice religion.

He explains that since 2006, Pew Research analyzed two overarching categories that correlate with loss or gain of religious freedoms: the number of government restrictions on religion and the number of religiously motivated social hostilities. A higher number of restrictions and social hostilities leads to a loss of religious freedoms. Deseret News

Take a midafternoon trip through the most sketchy and monomaniacal corners of the cybersphere, and you will discover that Jews have been blamed for everything from the Holocaust and Sept. 11 to Newtown and climate change. Faced with such frantic spewing, one looks back with a kind of nostalgia to the granddaddy of anti-Semitic tropes: the blood libel, the age-old charge that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of Passover matzoh.

The blood libel has had a long life, from its invention in Norwich, England, in 1144 to the pogroms it spurred centuries later in Poland and Russia. While matzoh is rarely a fixation among anti-Semites these days, the notion that Jews kill outsiders for their own nefarious purposes is alive and well, often with Muslim victims substituted for Christian ones. In 2009 the Swedish social democratic newspaper Aftonbladet ran a story alleging, without evidence, that Israelis were harvesting the organs of Palestinians for use on the black market. In the Arab world, Israel has been charged with murdering Palestinian children; in the most pointed versions of the accusation, such murders are seen as a perverse source of enjoyment for the Jews. At Davos in 2009, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan denounced Israel’s rulers as “murderers of children” and added that “Israeli barbarity is far beyond any usual cruelty.”

Recent times have even seen serious academics wonder whether the blood libel, so serious a source of pain to Jews, might contain a grain of truth. The very thought is nauseating and repugnant.  Tablet