Unlikely bedfellows of Istanbul protests

The protests in Turkey have seen fans of Istanbul’s rival football clubs, Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, unite together for the first time in history.

Istanbul’s football culture is notorious for it’s violence. The week before the protests began saw yet another stabbing related to disputes between warring fans.

Fans of Besiktas, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce pose during an anti-government protest at Taksim Square in central Istanbul

However, when the demonstration in Gezi Park began to grow during the first few days of June, hard-core supporter groups or ‘ultras’ from each of the teams found themselves side-by-side in supporting the protesters.



Tsarnaev brothers more conspiracy theorist than Muslim

An Arabic man was wrestled to the ground in the aftermath of the Boston bombings. Someone had seen him running by and assumed, because he looked middle-eastern and Muslim, that he must be a terrorist.

Turns out he was just another person running away from some really frightening explosions.

Now, this is obviously a very regrettable racist incident, but we can all understand whoever did it. In the back of our minds, Islam and Terrorism are linked.

Whether you are Muslim or Atheist or Zoroastrian, if you live in the west and have turned on the TV at some point over the last couple of decades, then your notion of Islam will be haunted by the spectre of terrible events such as the Boston bombings.

Seeing how much contemporary terrorism has been perpetrated by Muslims, isn’t this association kind of inevitable? It is a pretty sad state of affairs for the majority of Muslims, yes, but could it be another way? After all, journalists can’t not report terrorism just to protect the honour of Islam, can they?

No, but perhaps there is another way of reporting terrorism.

Read on.

Feelings vs. Facts

A new report finds that, despite the opinion of public opinion, violent crime has dropped more rapidly in Britain than anywhere else in Europe – a continent that anyway is witnessing falling rates of violence.

But, poles consistently show that there is still a powerful feeling out there that things are getting more violent, that youth are out of control and so on.

So our feelings don’t always reflect actual situation? Oh, bravo Wilf, a world exclusive yet again.

Continue reading.


Interfaith spar results in awkward hug by jaffa cakes


From left to right: Dr Kate Wharton, Dr Maria Heim, Dr Brandon Gallaher, Professor Gwen Griffeth-Dickson, Professor Chakravarthi Ram Prasad, Dr Clare Carlisle. Photo W. Merttens

A Buddhist scholar of Keirkegaard, an agnostic scholar of Buddhaghosa, an orthodox Christian theologian and a learned Oxford don who happens to be a Hindu were sitting side by side on a discussion panel.

Sounds like it could be the beginning of a rather convoluted study-of-religions joke, but actually it was an interfaith conference organised by Dr Kate Wharton, deputy secretary for inter-religious affairs to the archbishop of Canterbury.

The panel seemed to be uncovering a tentative common ground – each of them in their way complicating the notion that a religion is a coherent phenomenon that starts and ends with its card-carrying devotees.

Click HERE to discover what happens next!

Religion for Atheists – Review

Alain de Botton’s recentalain_de_botton book Religion for Atheists is a bold proposal for a secular religion that embraces the best parts of tradition while avoiding embarrassing logical fallacies.

De Botton subscribes to the new-atheist belief in the importance of discarding unscientific notions. However, he also feels that our society should rethink secularism and reintegrate some socially useful aspects of faith traditions.

‘The thesis is not that that secularism is wrong, but that we have too often secularized badly – inasmuch as, in the course of ridding ourselves of unfeasible ideas, we have unnecessarily surrendered some of the most useful and attractive parts of the faiths.’

Read on.

How a goodwill offer of land for a new mosque turned sour

TABLIGHI JAMAAT Muslims are threatening to take an English council to court over a land deal for a prestige new mosque, in a case that illustrates the perils of state involvement in religion.

Reading Council gave Jamme Masjid, who are part of the worldwide Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) mission movement, a 125-year lease on an acre of land in 2009 at a peppercorn rent on condition it be used for all the Muslim community.

Three years later, without a stone being laid, the project is mired in controversy after ‘the community’ fell out.

Continue reading here: http://www.lapidomedia.com/uk-how-goodwill-offer-land-new-mosque-turned-sour

‘I don’t repent’, says Farooq, who accused imams of ‘mind-boggling banality’

Farooq Siddique-1

Farooq Siddique. Photo by Paul Blakemore

A CRISIS of leadership in British Islam is causing violence and encouraging ‘cults’ among Muslims.

A ‘desperation for guidance’ is driving ordinary Muslims into the hands of groups whose sole aim is to gather more adherents, says a Bristol businessman.

Farooq Siddique, Bristol Post columnist, who complained of the ‘mind-boggling banality’ of local imams’ concerns had a paving slab thrownthrough his car windscreen earlier this month.

Continue reading.


The Trouble With Community

What on earth is a community? How do I get to meet one?

I have something of a community: a motley crew of friends, family, colleagues, shoulders to cry on, power-tool lending neighbours, and shopkeepers who supply me with banter and confectionary.

However, I am not sure I would appreciate it if you picked one of these individuals at random and decided that they were to speak for me, or worse, that they were going to control resources allocated to me.

Continue reading.

Hunger Strike in Central London

photo Wilf Merttens

photo Wilf Merttens

On Exmouth Market in central London, there is a blue tent by the side of the road. Look closer and you will see that the side of the tent is daubed with the words “Jesus, help me”. Crowds bustle by on their way to and from work. But if you stuck your head inside, you would be greeted by the earnest face of Abdul Rahim Dehdozorgi.

Dehdozorgi has not eaten for more than 30 days. He is hungry. His movements are slow and deliberate. If you doubt his resolve, then look closely at his lips. They are sewn together with fishing wire.

Read the entire article here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/sep/03/hunger-striker-iran-exmouth-market?INTCMP=SRCH

A version of this piece was also published here: http://www.lapidomedia.com/religion-behind-news