Challenging the misuse of the Cross

The BNP raises the Union Flag, which is a composite design based on the crosses of Christian saints. The flag is influenced by Christianity even if it is now secular device.

The English Defence League and miscellaneous extremist organisations hoists the flag of St George as a standard under which like minded people can rally.

Both bodies but particularly the EDL and like minded groupings have used the social networks to facilitate anti-Muslim hate.

After the tragic murder of Drummer Lee Rigby early in 2013 these groups made their presence known. Community tensions were high. Anti-Muslim hate attacks rose alarmingly. I know because before the murder I had arranged to meet Tell MAMA UK’s founder, Fiyaz Mughal, but in the wake of the murder he arrived very late at our appointed meeting place. He had been caught up with his work.

Mosques were being targeted for hate attacks. It was evident that supporters of the EDL or one of its clones were implicated, at least indirectly. They flocked to the national emblem based on a Christian icon.

After the murder Muslim leaders spoke as one as they stressed that the murders were un-Islamic. This had no influence on people rallying under the exremist xenophobic groups’ Christian inspired battle standards.

Clearly in the same manner that this horrible murder was not Islamic the hate revenge was not an appropriate Christian or English response. Who called on Englishmen to hold back? Who called on the people using a Christian emblem to pull away from revenge attacks?

What did Prime Minister David Cameron say? What did the Archbishop of Canterbury say? They both echoed the Muslim leaders saying that the murder was not Islamic.

The PM did not say that hate revenge was not the proper English response.

The Archbishop did not say that hate revenge was not a proper Christian response. Certainly Justin Welby did not say as much when he stood behind a Muslim leader in a joint appearance a couple days after the event.

The xenophobic right wing groups could possibly be disarmed if the PM made it very clear the use of the national flag to rally supporters was not an appropriate English/British reaction to the murder. He did not. Justin Welby could have said that Christian icons should not be as a battle standard. He did not.

Twelve months on some parliamentarians and several print media groups have got it into their brains that Muslims have a barbaric method of slaughter. Apparently Muslim bleed the animals they slaughter. Christians, Secularists and Atheist use essentially the same rituals. Most Muslims accept that in industrial slaughterhouses stunning before slaughter is prudent. All four schools of thought accept that the heart should be beating to assist bleeding out – but they don’t like talking about.

Muslims differ from Christians in that for them the slaughter is performed in person. Muslim are motivated by a strong sense of spiritualism and sanctity of life.Christians hide behind a machine. Their slaughter ritual is impersonal. Muslims have to face the animal and look it in the eye while invoking The Creator as the final deed is done. The prayer effectively thanks the Creator for His bounty and beg forgiveness for taking a precious life. Christians and Muslims believe in a common God so where does all the talk about false gods come from. I do not believe there are many Secularists and Atheists who do not have respect for the sanctity of life. So why are we at each other’s throat? [Sorry unintended pun]

Christians hide behind a machine. For them animals are there to taken.

There was an interesting development during the great halal debate of May 2014. The Church of England’s Canon Eric Woods  of Sherbourne wrote an offensive and hate ridden column in the Western Gazette – a Local World title. The negative impact of the letter must have been foreseeable. His attention would have better been utilised attacking the national media for their Islamophobic agenda.

Needless to say those of us who work alongside interfaith groups had no option but to complain formally to the Canon’s diocesan office. The Bishop was out the office. His Chaplain effectively supported his colleague’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Why, I wonder, do our Church leaders not unequivocally stand up for our Muslim Brothers and Sisters when they are under attack?

I opened with a reference to the misappropriation of a Christian icon by right wing xenophobic groups such as the EDL. I have questioned why Archbishop Justin Welby didn’t condemn this misuse. Perhaps Canon Eric Woods’ halal rant tells us the Church of England is “institutionally Islamophobic”.

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