Monday 4 August 2014

The Archbishop, Muslims and the War.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury has made an important speech to the Living Islam Festival about the value of Islam. He makes an important and much needed contribution to the current debate on the role of Muslims in our nation. He criticises sections of the press for portraying Muslims as “un-British" and complains of "illiteracy" about religion among figures in Government.

He said Britain was an "argumentative democracy… we are not just individual voters ticking boxes but individuals and communities engaging in open, honest and difficult public discussion."

He went on to say “it's very important that we respect and try to understand diversity of conscience and belief and conviction in our environment. These are not just about what makes us British, they're about what makes us human."

"One of the greatest gifts of the Muslim community in Britain has been that they have brought that back to the people.”

These are welcome comments. It would be good to hear a similar message from the Charity Commission to underline the importance of the Islamic charitable tradition to our society. This would help reassure some large national charities like Muslim Aid who have come to me recently to highlight the pressure they are under.

The Archbishop also makes the wider point about the role of individuals and communities in national democratic debate. It’s worrying that we now have advice from the Electoral Commission on the Lobbying Act which is voluminous (20 separate notes) and confusing. ACEVO members are still unclear on the implications of all this, though our advice is to stick to your mission and not to be deflected from speaking out.

And finally, as today we remember the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1, worth us also remembering the role that charities played, both in supporting communities at home and working with the troops. The work of the great charities like the Royal British Legion continues today. And there will be many families who will remember relatives who lost their lives in that war. For my own we will remember Gunner Vivian Willatts, killed in action on HMS Lion at the Battle of Jutland, at just 20 years of age. 

No comments: