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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

How Not To Do Interfaith

Christian Aid News No. 27 (Spring 2005)

This is the first of a series of postings dealing with individual issues of Christian Aid News - in reverse order until I clear the backlog!

Two points of concern raised by this issue:

First, the question of proportion…

Coverage of Israel and Palestine: two articles and a letter, taking up more than a page altogether. One of the articles deals with Christian Aid’s West Bank “roadshow”.

Coverage of Sudan: one sentence. There is no Sudan roadshow.

Coverage of Democratic Republic of the Congo: nil.

Second, the letter from Dr Afshan Butt, who describes himself as a “devout Muslim” and writes “I was inspired to see your stance on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. I recently attended a march in protest of the current situation and was elated to see half a dozen rabbis also attend. This has given me great hope that the three major faiths can work together.”

Now, let me say upfront that I am very much in favour of inter-faith cooperation. But the notion that we can all get along just fine so long as the Jews are sufficiently self-critical is precisely the wrong basis for such cooperation. Has Dr Butt protested about Sudan recently? When did he last see an imam protesting against the human rights abuses of any Islamic regime? It is understandable, if not acceptable, that this bias is widespread in the Muslim community. That Christian Aid should appear to be endorsing it is neither acceptable nor understandable.

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