Friday, 24 May 2013
FAITHS UNITED AFTER ACTROCITY
This is (part of) the front page of today's Leicester Mercury. I don't usually comment on articles or readers' letters in the Mercury, but I'm making an exception this time.
Well, this is the kind of headline I like to see, as I'm sure you can imagine, faithful reader. But the title of this short but prominent piece is hyperbolic - as is the first sentence, "People of different faiths stood shoulder to shoulder [...]" When you turn to the full article, it only refers to two faiths: Christianity and Islam. Even then, it's actually the Church of England and Islam. Only Sheikh Ibrahim Moghra, Suleman Nagdi and the Bishop of Leicester are quoted. Three important voices, who should be heard prominently in the city and beyond - but this is hardly comprehensive coverage of a matter that is of major interest and importance to everyone in Leicester who cares about the increasingly polarised debate on the influence of religion or belief on community relations. These three voices have no trouble being heard, because of their well-earned and richly deserved prominence in their respective communities and the place of their religions in the firmament of faiths. I certainly respect their opinions and want to know what they have to say and believe that the rest of the city should hear them too. But does the Mercury really think that the city's Bahá'ís, Buddhists, other kinds of Christians, Jains, Jews, Sikhs - and, for that matter, Secular Humanists - have nothing calming, illuminating or insightful to say about this?
Leicester Council of Faiths issued a brief statement to the Leicester Mercury (amongst other recipients) yesterday morning, but the paper has not used it, referred to it or contacted anyone involved with the Council of Faiths to contribute to any of its coverage of local responses to the incident in Woolwich. Considering our role in the public life of Leicester and our standing in the city, I think that's a pity.