Wednesday, November 17, 2010

US Report on Religious Freedom in the UK

It is always useful to have the perspective of our cousins across the pond, and here follows the report of the US Department of State on Religious Liberty in the UK, reproduced in its entirety:

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
International Religious Freedom Report 2010
November 17, 2010

The law provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

The government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom for non-Christian believers, while Christians continued to voice concern about the ability to express their faith in the workplace.

There were some reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Community Security Trust (CST) reported that anti-Semitic acts increased slightly during and immediately after the Gaza flotilla incident. A significant number of anti-Muslim incidents occurred, and public debate continued over the role of Islam in society. Representatives of other religious groups reported few negative religiously motivated acts.

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 94,525 square miles and a population of 61.1 million. Christians make up 72 percent of the population, including the Church of England, Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant churches, and many unaffiliated Christian groups. In 2003 the Office of National Statistics estimated 29 percent of the population identified with Anglicanism, 10 percent with the Catholic Church, and 14 percent with Protestant churches. A 2007 survey reported that the number of Catholics attending Sunday services had overtaken the number of Anglicans doing so. A 2006 English Church Census reported that Methodists were decreasing as a percentage of the population, while members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Pentecostal churches, many churches from Africa, and the Eastern Orthodox Church, almost entirely immigrants, were increasing.

Muslims composed 3 percent of the population. The Muslim community is predominantly South Asian in origin, but other groups from the Arabian Peninsula, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Levant are represented. In addition there is a growing number of indigenous converts. Groups composing 1 percent or less of the population include Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, and Buddhists. Individuals from Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Sikh backgrounds are concentrated in London and other large urban areas, primarily in England.

Attendance at religious services was significantly different from the number of adherents. According to Christian Research's "Religious Trends" report released in May 2008, four million Christians attend services on a regular basis (defined as at least once a month) in the country. These figures do not include Northern Ireland, where higher percentages reportedly attend both Catholic (more than 60 percent), and Protestant (more than 35 percent) services. The report stated that more than 50 percent of Muslims regularly worship at mosques. Figures for Jews and other religious groups were unavailable.

Religious affiliation was not evenly distributed among ethnicities. According to the 2001 census, approximately 70 percent of the white population described themselves as Christians. Nearly 75 percent of black Caribbean respondents stated that they were Christians, as did 70 percent of black Africans. Meanwhile, 45 percent of Indians were Hindus and 29 percent were Sikhs. Approximately 92 percent of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were Muslims.

In Northern Ireland, where divisions between nationalists and unionists evolved largely along religious lines, the 2001 census showed that 53.1 percent were Protestants and 43.8 percent were Catholics. Many Catholics and Protestants continued to live in segregated communities in Northern Ireland, although many middle class neighborhoods were mixed communities. The policy of the government remained one of promotion of religious tolerance.

In Bermuda nearly 20 different religious groups composed 125 religious congregations. Anglicans were 23 percent of the population, while Roman Catholics and African Methodist Episcopalians represented 15 and 11 percent, respectively.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The law provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion. The 1998 Human Rights Act provides for freedom of religion, and the 2006 Equality Act bans discrimination based on religion.

More specifically, article 9 of the Council of Europe's Convention on Human Rights is included in the 1998 Human Rights Act, providing the right to choose, to change, to practice, and to discuss one's religion or belief.

Those who believe that their freedom of religion has been infringed upon have the right to appeal to the courts for relief.

The 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act includes "incitement to religious hatred" among its prohibitions, and the penalties are similar to the "incitement to racial hatred" provisions included in previous laws that are used in other hate crime prosecutions. The 1998 Racial and Religious Hatred Act defines "religious hatred" as hatred against a group of persons that may be determined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief. The act does not define religion or what constitutes a religious belief but leaves that determination to the courts. Offenses under the act must be threatening and intend to stir up religious hatred based on the following criteria: the use of words, behavior, or display of written material; publishing or distributing written material; the public performance of a play; distributing, showing, or playing a recording; broadcasting or including a program in a program service; or the possession of written materials or recordings with a view to display, publish, distribute, or include in a program service. The act does not apply where words or behavior are used or displayed inside a private dwelling and does not apply to criticism or dislike of a religious belief. The maximum penalty for stirring up religious hatred is seven years in prison. This act gives only constables the power to arrest persons in the context of these offenses, rather than allowing "citizens' arrests."

The 2006 Equality Act makes it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of "religion or belief" or the "lack of religion or belief" in the provision of goods, facilities and services, education, the use and disposal of property, and the exercise of public functions. Religious discrimination in employment and vocational training is illegal under the 2003 Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations. The Equality Act established the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), which began work in 2007 and is responsible for promoting an awareness of the act's provisions, promoting equality and diversity, and working towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination and harassment. The CEHR receives and is accountable for public funds, but it is independent of the government. The CEHR has powers to investigate unlawful acts of discrimination and can bring legal proceedings against violators of the Equality Act's provisions. In Scotland the CEHR covers only human rights matters reserved for parliament and major government ministries. Human rights for matters "devolved" to the Scottish Parliament are covered by the Scottish Human Rights Commission. The Equality Act allows the CEHR to cover devolved matters if it has the agreement of the proposed Scottish commission.

It is government policy to ensure that public servants are not discriminated against on the basis of religious beliefs and to accommodate religious practices by government employees whenever possible. For example, the Prison Service permits Muslim employees to take time off during their shifts to pray. It also provides prisoners with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim chaplains. The Chaplaincy Council monitors policy and practice on matters relating to religious provision. The military generally provides military personnel who are adherents of minority religious groups with chaplains of their faith.

The 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security Act covers "religiously aggravated offenses," based on existing assault, harassment, criminal damage, and public order offenses. Those convicted of "religiously aggravated offenses" (where there is evidence of religious hostility in connection with a crime) face higher maximum penalties.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reported that in 2008-09, it prosecuted 11,624 racially and religiously motivated crimes, of which 10,690 led to convictions. The statistics do not differentiate between religiously and racially motivated crimes. These rates represented a decrease in prosecutions from the previous period and an increase in convictions.

In Northern Ireland religious discrimination in employment has been illegal since 1976 and discrimination in provision of goods and services has been illegal since 1998. This, and all other equality legislation, is supervised by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which has similar powers to those of the CEHR.

In Northern Ireland the Fair Employment Act bans employment discrimination on the grounds of religious or political opinion. A broad network of laws, regulations, and oversight bodies work to ensure that there is equal opportunity for employees of all religious groups. All public sector employers and all private firms with more than 10 employees must report annually to the Equality Commission on the religious composition of their workforces and must review their employment practices every three years. Noncompliance may result in criminal penalties and the loss of government contracts. Victims of employment discrimination may sue for damages. In addition, the 1998 Northern Ireland Act stipulates that all public authorities must show due regard for the need to promote equality of opportunity, including on the basis of religious belief. Each public authority must report its plans to promote equality to the Equality Commission, which is to review such plans every five years. In the rest of the country, the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations prohibit employment discrimination based on religious belief, except where there is a "genuine occupational requirement" of a religious nature.

There are two established (or state) churches--the Church of England (Anglican) and the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian)--but Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland do not have "official" religions. The 1921 Church of Scotland Act reorganized the church as Scotland's national church based on a Presbyterian system but not dependent on any government body or the queen for spiritual matters or leadership.

The monarch appoints Church of England officials on the advice of the prime minister and the Crown Appointments Commission, which includes lay and clergy representatives. The General Convention of the Church of Scotland appoints its own office bearers, and its affairs are not subject to any civil authority. The Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church of Ireland are members of the Anglican Communion.

The 1689 Bill of Rights and the 1701 Act of Settlement forbid any Catholic, or person married to a Catholic, from becoming monarch. The monarch is the "Supreme Governor" of the Church of England and must always be a member of and promise to uphold the church. The monarch's connection with the Church of England was the subject of public debate, and in 2009 a Member of Parliament (MP) tried to introduce legislation to remove the ban on a Catholic becoming the monarch. The government has agreed that the ban needs to be considered, although some Christians worry that this would diminish the role of the Church in the country. There is disagreement within the Catholic Church in the country as to the importance of the issue. The head of the Catholic Church in Scotland described the ban as "state-sponsored sectarian discrimination," while the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales stated that it was low on his list of priorities.

No church or religious organization receives direct funding from the government, with the exception of "faith schools." The government provides financial support--up to 90 percent of the total capital costs of the buildings and 100 percent of running costs, including teachers' salaries--to sectarian educational institutions that are commonly referred to as "faith schools."

The government also helps fund the repair and maintenance of all listed places of worship for religious groups nationwide and contributes to the budget of the Church Conservation Trust, which preserves disused Church of England buildings of architectural or historic significance.

A 2001 Home Office study suggested that the establishment status of the Church of England causes "religious disadvantage" to other religious communities. Twenty-six senior bishops of the Anglican Church are given places in the House of Lords as representatives of the official church. Besides this instance, however, membership in a given religious group does not confer a political or economic advantage on individual adherents, except perhaps in the case of nonresidents of the country who wish to marry in the country, a policy which was under review. The Home Office requires nonresidents wishing to marry in the country to apply for a Certificate of Approval (COA) if they are not going to marry in the Church of England. At least one suit has been brought claiming that the Church of England's exemption from the COA requirement (and the substantial accompanying fee) is discriminatory. As a result, COA fees were suspended in April 2009 and the exemption for nonresidents marrying in the Church of England was declared unlawful by the High Court. At the end of the reporting period, the time frame for the government to come into compliance with the court ruling had not been determined.

The government includes other religious groups in national events; for example, under the auspices of the Church of England, the queen supported invitations to representatives of a broad range of religious groups to participate in the national Remembrance Day Service. The government made efforts to address specific needs of different religious communities, such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's annual provision of a special hajj delegation to provide consular and medical assistance to the country's Muslims on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

The Race, Cohesion, and Faiths Directorate, of the Department of Communities, is responsible for addressing racism, extremism, and hate and for promoting interfaith activity in England and Wales. The directorate also works with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a nondepartmental government body, in pursuing these goals. The government can exclude individuals, such as international religious leaders of minority religious groups, from the country on the grounds that they have engaged in unacceptable behavior, including cases where the public expression of religious or other beliefs by that individual is part of the reason for exclusion. The government defines unacceptable behavior as using any means to express views that foster extremism or hatred.

Religiously motivated hate language is prosecuted under various sections of the Public Order Act and the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which the CPS applies to demonstrations where insulting and abusive language is used about religion. Christian groups expressed concern over an addition to the Public Order Act that criminalizes hate speech against members of the lesbian and gay community.

The 1971 Immigration Act states that all non-UK nationals need "leave to enter" the country. The Immigration Rules secondary regulations that govern how the act can be implemented allows the home secretary to personally deny a non-UK national leave to enter the country on the grounds that the person's exclusion is conducive to the public good. In October 2008 the home secretary issued a revised set of rules allowing the country to bar entry to foreign preachers who espouse hatred. In June 2010 the Telegraph reported that the home secretary banned Mumbai-based preacher Zakir Naik from entering the country because "inflammatory" comments he had made were evidence of "unacceptable behavior."

Shari'a (Islamic law) may be used in areas such as dispute mediation, marriage, and finance insofar as it does not contradict the laws of England and Wales.

The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Christmas.

Citing a limited broadcast spectrum, the government continued to prohibit religious groups from holding a national sound broadcasting license, a public teletext license, an additional television service license, and radio and television multiplex licenses.

After several controversial court decisions prohibiting full-face veils (but not headscarves) and Christian chastity rings in school, the Department of Education provided guidance that advises schools to "… act reasonably in accommodating religious requirements," under human rights legislation. Some Muslim groups, including the Islamic Human Rights Commission, stated it was inappropriate for the government to provide guidance that regulated Muslim communities in matters concerning the expression of their religious beliefs. However, it is also legally possible under the act, according to the guidance, to have a school uniform policy that "restricts the freedom of pupils to manifest their religion" on the grounds of health and safety and the "protection of the rights and freedoms of others." The government's guidance is meant to remind "head teachers" to act with a degree of sensitivity when considering decisions that would affect the cultural complexion of their communities.

Most religious institutions are classified as charities, since the advancement of religion is considered to be a charitable purpose. Charities are exempt from taxes on most types of income and capital gains, provided that the charity uses the income or gains for charitable purposes. Charities also are exempt from the value-added tax. The government has not classified the Church of Scientology as a religious institution and, therefore, has not granted the organization recognition for charitable status. The government has granted the Church of Scientology's request to obtain tax-exempt status, confirming it was a not-for-profit entity and exempt from the value added tax.

Immigration regulations require visa applicants who wish to enter the country as "ministers of religion" (a legal term used for visas) to demonstrate a level-four competence in spoken English on the International English Language Testing System. Visa adjudicators are permitted to waive the testing requirement at their discretion and where other evidence of English competency is provided for applicants educated in an English-speaking country. "Ministers of religion" are also required to have worked for at least one year in the last five as a "minister" and when applying for visas must also have one year of full-time experience or two years of part-time training following their ordination for religious groups where ordination is the sole means of entering the ministry. To obtain an entry visa, a missionary must be trained as such or have worked previously as a missionary.

Ministers of the Church of Scientology and the Unification Church of Reverend Moon are not issued visas as ministers, since their organizations are not accepted as religious groups. Adherents and those wishing to learn about either group may apply for visas as visitors or students, respectively. There were no reports of specific visa denials during the reporting period.

At the end of the previous reporting period, more than 30 percent of state schools had a religious character. Nearly all of the approximately 7,000 "faith schools" in England (numbers are not available for Scotland and Wales) are associated with Christian denominations, although there are Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, and one Hindu school. In addition several hundred independent schools of a religious nature receive no state support but must meet government quality standards. Controversy arose in 2006 regarding more than 100 Islamic schools when an Office of Standards in Education (Ofsted) evaluation of these schools showed many were "little more than places where the Qur'an was recited." The schools were given time to correct their deficiencies. A review was due in 2010. As of October 2009, reports from the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) indicated that there were approximately 2,000 official madrassas in the country.

In April 2009 the government mandated that all schools teach sex education ("Personal, Social, and Health Education"), but allowed faith schools to teach their pupils their faiths' teachings that some aspects of the standard curriculum is wrong. Some Christian schools also faced controversy because they were accused of not following the national curriculum in science, teaching creationism instead. In an Ofsted report published in October 2009, a small number of independent faith schools used teaching materials that "included biased material or provided inaccurate information about other religions."

Almost all schools in Northern Ireland receive state support. More than 90 percent of students attended schools that were either predominantly Protestant (state-run) or Catholic. Integrated schools served approximately 7 percent of school-age children whose families voluntarily chose this option, often after overcoming significant obstacles to provide the resources to start a school and demonstrate its sustainability for three years before government funding begins. Demand for places in integrated schools outweighed the limited number of places available. There were more than 60 integrated schools, and the government permits existing schools to petition to change from state-run or Catholic to integrated status. More schools petition for that status than are granted it.

The law requires religious education for all children, ages three to 19, in publicly maintained schools. In England and Wales, it forms part of the core curriculum in accordance with the 1988 Education Reform Act. In Scotland religious education of some sort is mandated by the 1980 Education Act. However, the shape and content of religious instruction throughout the country is decided on a local basis. Locally agreed syllabuses are required to reflect the predominant place of Christianity while taking into account the teachings and practices of other principal religious groups in the country. Syllabi must be nondenominational and refrain from attempting to convert pupils. Schools with a religious designation follow a syllabus drawn up by the school governors according to the trust deed of the school. All parents have the legal right to request that their children not participate in religious education.

Daily collective prayer or worship of "a wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character" is practiced in schools in England and Wales, a requirement that may be waived for students who obtain permission of the school authorities. The 2006 Education and Inspections Act permits sixth form students (generally 16-to-19-year-olds) to withdraw themselves from worship without their parents' permission or action. This law does not exempt sixth form students from religious education classes. Non-Christian worship is permitted with approval of the authorities. Teachers have the right not to participate in collective worship, without prejudice, unless they work for a faith school. In 2009 the National Union of Teachers called on the government to end the requirement for a collective act of worship, but easing of the requirement had not occurred by the end of the reporting period.

In Bermuda the constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion. The government school curriculum includes religious instruction. The 1996 Education Act allows collective worship by the students but prohibits collective worship at public schools from being "distinctive of any particular religious group." The act also provides for exceptions to the requirement that pupils in public schools engage in collective worship at least once a week. It gives parents the right to request that their children be excused from such worship and, moreover, authorizes such pupils to worship elsewhere at the beginning or end of the school day. Home schooling is an approved alternative to public or private school for religious or other reasons. The government does not fund the teaching of atheism in schools. Representatives of the Jewish community noted on a Web site that bringing up children in a country where Christian prayers are said in both the public and most private schools is a challenge.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

As in previous years, Christian groups stated that they had been subjected to more stringent application of rules restricting religion in the public sphere than other groups. There was increasing public concern over the ability of Christians to express their faith in the workplace.

The Prison Service does not recognize Scientology as a religious group for the purpose of facilitating prison visits by ministers, although prisoners who are registered as Scientologists may practice their religious beliefs freely and have access to a representative of the Church of Scientology.

In March 2010 the government revoked the registration of a Christian foster mother after the woman's 16-year-old foster daughter converted from Islam to Christianity. The foster mother said that she did not encourage the girl to explore Christianity and that she offered to take the girl to places where she could practice Islam. The girl reportedly insisted on learning about Christianity and eventually chose to be baptized.

The collective worship policy continued to invite controversy. Parents and students in favor of the law said that it helped students understand the religious orientation of the country and the society in which they are living. Some students and parents opposed the policy as imposing religion or a particular form of religion on students. Many teachers called for the government to remove the collective worship requirement, especially in secular schools.

Members of the Muslim community complained that police targeted them disproportionately for suspicion, arrest, and "stop-and-search." Ministry of Justice figures showed that the number of stop and searches were significantly higher for blacks and Asians than whites. Because ethnicity and religion are often inextricably linked, it is difficult to categorize many incidents specifically as ethnic or religious intolerance. The Muslim community and human rights activists also criticized the 28-day detention powers for terrorism suspects, which in June 2010 the government extended for six months while it reviewed counter-terrorism legislation.

Several studies have shown that Muslims suffer serious discrimination by authorities and in society. Surveillance cameras were installed in two primarily Muslim suburbs under the auspices of crime prevention; however, the money to fund the project was derived from counter-terrorism allotments. The surveillance project was subsequently halted pending further investigation. In September 2009 a report released by the Policy Research Center, an Islamic think tank, stated that many young Muslims believed they were portrayed as a "threat to society" by the media and often harassed by the police.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) continued to work closely with Muslim groups to address concerns about the way police treated Muslims. The IPCC publicized its services among Asian communities through advertisements, community meetings, and media articles.

According to the Telegraph, in August 2009 Jim Fitzpatrick, a government minister and member of the Labour party, walked out of an Islamic wedding after being told that he and his wife would have to sit separately. He reportedly stated that gender segregation was a sign of increasing radicalization and was damaging for social cohesion.

In February 2010 an appeals court upheld a lower court decision that British Airways had not discriminated against Nadia Eweida by instructing her not to wear a visible cross while on duty.

During the reporting period, conflicting rulings by schools, school boards, employment tribunals, and courts on what is and is not permitted dress in schools and places of employment led to controversy and legal challenges.

In April 2010 a nurse lost her discrimination appeal before an employment tribunal. She was previously moved to an office role after refusing to remove a necklace bearing a crucifix that she had worn on the job for 30 years. A Christian Registrar of Marriages was denied permission to appeal to the Supreme Court after having lost her case in appeals court for refusing to officiate for same-sex civil partnerships.

The government does not allow Sikh police officers to participate in certain firearms police units because police helmets do not fit over the turbans that Sikhs must wear as part of their religion. Sikhs are also not allowed to work in the field in fire departments because of their turbans and beards. Representatives of Sikh NGOs continued to work with the authorities to come to arrangements that would allow Sikhs to work in these professions.

On March 11, 2010, council members rejected an application to build a mosque approximately a half mile from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. The Ministry of Defense and 7,000 Surrey residents also opposed the proposal, which would have included demolition of a school built in the 1860s in a historical conservation area.

Abuses of Religious Freedom

According to the Telegraph, on April 20, 2010, police arrested Christian street preacher Dale McAlpine who had been passing out leaflets and talking to passersby about his beliefs. McAlpine said in a discussion with a woman that "homosexuality is a sin." A "homosexual police community support officer" approached the woman and spoke with her before confronting McAlpine. Police took McAlpine away in a van and locked him in a cell for seven hours. They charged him with violating Sections 5(1) and (6) of the 1986 Public Order Act and released him on bail on the condition that he not preach in public. On May 13, 2010, the CPS dropped the charges.

There were no reports of religious prisoners in the country.

Forced Religious Conversion

According to The Times, staff at prisons and youth jails expressed concern over intimidation of non-Muslims and possible forced conversions. Chief Inspector of Prisons Dame Anne Owers reported that some were converting to Islam for better food, more time away from cells, and protection from Muslim gangs.

Improvements and Positive Developments in Respect for Religious Freedom

On March 17, 2010, a high court judge ordered the Charity Commission to reconsider its refusal to grant Catholic Care an exemption from equality regulations. The exemption would allow Catholic Care to continue placing "hard to place" children with heterosexual families. Catholic Care is the last Catholic adoption agency functioning in line with Catholic teachings. The others have had to close their adoption programs or disassociate themselves from the church to follow the equality regulations.

On February 10, 2010, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court's verdict denying a Hindu man the right to have an open funeral pyre. The judge stated that the man's wishes could be carried out within cremation regulations.

In January 2010 the House of Lords voted down changes to the Equality Bill that would have left churches vulnerable to legal challenges if they refused to hire persons who did not "live a life consistent with the ethos of the religion."

In July 2009 the Metropolitan Police allowed Sikh victims of crime to ask for an officer of their same faith to resolve their cases. Police intended to put victims of crime more at ease, since Sikh police officers have a unique understanding of the culture.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

There were some reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT), established in 2007 to give Muslims an alternative for settling disputes, reported that as of June 2010, 30 Islamic law councils operated in the country. Civitas, a British think tank, argued that these councils often contradict the country's law, but recent reports indicated that non-Muslims were increasingly turning to Islamic law courts for settling disputes.

According to The Guardian, on September 11, 2009, far-right groups and Muslim youths from other areas descended on the mosque in Harrow. The English Defense League had stated that it would protest the new five-story mosque, but later opted not to protest. In its place, a group called Stop the Islamization of Europe decided to protest and rallied approximately 2,000 persons to the scene. Some of the participants threw bottles and bricks at police. Police arrested 10 persons including a "far-righter" and some Muslim youths. A BBC correspondent was reportedly threatened by youths who accused him of being a police officer. A local imam condemned members of far-right groups and Muslims youths for aggravating the situation.

Community Security Trust (CST) reported that there were 296 anti-Semitic incidents in the last six months of 2009, whereas the preceding six months had seen 609 incidents, due in large part to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in January and February 2009. The incidents included property damage, threats, abusive behavior, and mass-produced or mass-mailed anti-Semitic literature.

The group also reported a small spike in anti-Semitic incidents immediately after the Gaza flotilla incident in June 2010. CST recorded 28 anti-Semitic incidents in the first week of June and 74 incidents for the entire month.

On April 10, 2010, vandals threw bricks at the windows of a Manchester mosque. Although images of the vandals were captured on closed-circuit television, no arrests were made.

On March 16, 2010, a fire destroyed all but the stonework of the church of Saint Mary's at Westry in Cambridgeshire. Some reports suggested that the blaze had been started by piling up and lighting books on fire. Police treated the fire as a possible arson. Three youths aged 13, 14, and 16 were arrested, but police opted to take no action and released the minors.

In April 2010 at the Langley Green mosque in Crawley, a pig's head was thrown into the parking lot. Within 24 hours police arrested three men on charges of a racially aggravated public order offense. A mosque leader welcomed the rapid police response and urged the community not to react to the incident.

In September 2009 CST reported that unidentified persons attempted to set fire to the house of a rabbi while the house was occupied.

In August 2009 two swastika symbols were found carved into the front door of a synagogue in Hertfordshire.

Plans by Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary group, to build a very large mosque in East London near the site of the 2012 Olympic site led to public criticism, and the project remained on hold at the end of the reporting period.

On February 5, 2010, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the record-breaking rise in anti-Semitic incidents that occurred in 2009. He urged Britons to be alert to anti-Jewish hate. He also stated "Anti-Semitism is one of the most ancient of hatreds – and yet it constantly adapts to modern times requiring ever greater vigilance from all of us who are determined to stand up for tolerance and for the truth."

On March 2, 2010, in London, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, the leader of Minhaj-ul-Quran, issued a fatwa against terrorism and in particular the use of suicide bombers. Minhaj-ul-Quran promotes Islam as tolerant and nonpolitical.

MINAB, a body launched by four large Muslim NGOs to professionalize mosques and imams and to combat extremism, continued to work on reaching out to encourage moderate, nonviolent interpretations of Islam. Twenty percent of its board members are Shi'a Muslims and 20 percent are women, both of which are minimums set by MINAB's bylaws.

Each year, Muslim and Jewish students gather with help from the Coexistence Trust, an organization that aims at promoting good relations between Muslims and Jews. The group planned to hold a faith summit entitled "FaithHub 2010," intended to bring youths of all religious groups together to discuss key problems centered around faith, identity, and community.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

The U.S. embassy encouraged interfaith dialogue to promote religious tolerance. Representatives from various ecumenical groups, such as the Three Faiths Forum, and other groups promoting religious tolerance are routinely included in embassy events. Embassy and consulate officers regularly contacted religious leaders of various groups to discuss religious freedom. Embassy officials actively engaged in "outreach" presentations to the public, with a particular emphasis on Muslim communities. Embassy officers discussed the need for religious tolerance and the role of religious diversity in American life. The embassy supported the Three Faiths Forum's high school-level outreach program which talks to young persons about different religious groups and tries to dispel related myths and misconceptions. The embassy also supported programs with the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core and other NGOs focusing on reducing the risk of radicalization and promoting understanding among religious groups.

As an active supporter of the peace process in Northern Ireland, the U.S. government encouraged efforts to diminish sectarian tension and promote dialogue between the Protestant and Catholic communities


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There certainly are a lot of tensions all over in the UK and America.

Many years ago, fresh out of college I attended a mandatory meeting after work one day. The topic was that America was no longer a melting pot but a tossed salad. I remember thinking I had alot of work to do and this was a total waste of time. I didn't realize then the political brain washing they were doing at the time as I was too young and naive.

America was always a melting pot. A place where people came from all over and brought with them their rich cultures and all blended into American culture. This created a delicious rich flavor of one big pot of soup.

I remember as a kid enjoying the Greek festival in town. I loved the baklava and Greek dancing. The following month it was the Polish festival with the kielbasa and crafts. Downtown was the Italian festival where we ate cannoli and watched the Italians grease the telephone poles and race to the top. I remember my Jewish neighbors would attend Christmas Eve service with us because they got a kick out of seeing our Bishop in full dress walking down the aisle with his sceptor. They would always compliment our Hanukkah bush at Christmas and share a toast of eggnog with us. My Jewish classmates always seemed to share in the excitement when Santa stopped by the classroom and gave each child a candy cane or small gift. I remember marvelling at my friend when I heard her speak Hebrew at her Bat Mitzvah. I love our Mexican restaurants and Cinco de Mayo celebrations. I appreciated it when my co-worker, who was African American, invited me to her home for dinner. It was the first time I tried ox tail. I have always loved the festivals, food, friends and fun. Their cultures and diversities added to my learning and experiences and has made America a great place.

But, when we went to the work place or to school we were all one, blended together in one melting pot, and in spite of our differences we were all Americans. We dressed to a societal standard, spoke the same language and adhered to National holidays and customs based upon the American culture, Christian and Judeo principles and our rule of law.

At home and in places of worship different languages were spoken, different foods were eaten, different clothes were worn and different religions were practiced.

The new concept of a tossed salad is where people do not have to blend into the society and culture of their host country or new country where they chose to immigrate to. Instead the thinking is their new country should make allowances for their culture. Just like a tossed salad, each culture and belief is one ingredient not to be blended together.

This is where cultural and religous tensions have arisen from. The government through their progressive agenda is deliberately trying to pit groups of people against each other to create chaos and conflict. Then they will step in to save the day while they take control and we lose our liberties.

Now we live in a society where kids cannot sing Christmas carols in school, or draw a picture of Santa or a menorah. Cab drivers do not have to pick up people carrying bottles of alcohol if it is against their religion. Cashiers do not have to ring up customers who are buying pork products if it is against their religion. People can not wear a gold chain with a cross or Star of David or Ram's Horn etc. A few school districts have removed all pork products from their menu to accommodate a few and as not to offend and have added halal foods instead. The political correctness is beyond reason and someone is always offended.

Our soceital standards and culture are based upon our rule of law which is based upon our constitution and Christian and Judeo principles. A rule of law accepted by society is what binds us together and gives us cohesiveness.
Without it we have tensions and hostility.


18 November 2010 at 04:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On March 2, 2010, in London, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, the leader of Minhaj-ul-Quran, issued a fatwa against terrorism and in particular the use of suicide bombers.

There must be something very wrong that a leading scholar must issue a fatwa condemning terrorism, even worse where there are other scholars that promote terrorism, and islamic terrorism since 9/11 has increased

Minhaj-ul-Quran promotes Islam as tolerant and nonpolitical.

On the 19 February 2010 an article called "Shaykh-ul-Islam’s Historical Contributions in the Field of Law" By Miss Sumaira Rafaqat Kahloon Advocate
(Nazima Minhaj-ul-Quran Women League) was published

The article was about Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri,s achievement,s. Among them being

The Government of Pakistan also appointed him as Juris-Consult (Advisor on Fiqh) of the Federal Shariat Court in February 1982. This court benefited from his guidance on the most delicate and sensitive religious issues.

When the Federal Sharia Court of Pakistan gave its verdict against “Rajm” (stoning to death) as Hadd, the Government of Pakistan filed a review petition against the decision of the court. In his capacity as Juris Consult, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri came to the help of the Government at this crucial juncture, and through cogent reasoning and profuse illustration spread over four days from 20th to 23rd June, 1982, forced the Federal Sharia Court to reverse its decision and uphold Rajm as Hadd.


For three days from November 14 to 17, 1985 Dr Qadri presented his arguments continuously before the Federal Sharia Court of Pakistan to determine the quantum of punishment to be awarded to a person guilty of contempt of the finality of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), an extremely delicate legal matter. He established, on evidence from the Quran and Sunna, that a person guilty of contempt of the finality of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) deserved death sentence and the punishment will be imposed as Hadd. The act of contempt of the finality of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) is a crime, which cannot be tolerated whether its commission is direct or indirect, intentional or un-intentional. The crime is so sanguine that even his repentance cannot exempt him from the penalty of death. Dr Qadri placed a massive array of arguments before the learned Court and particularly stressed the point that no lacuna should be allowed in the legal structure of an Islamic state to encourage this form of sacrilege

The page was removed on the 10 Jul 2010, and the cached page removed from google around the 12 aug.

It is very frightening that the media are praising this man and ignoring that he helped and advised General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq introduce many draconian laws in which non-Muslims and minority Muslims would suffer alongside women who also bore the brunt of Islamization

18 November 2010 at 06:55  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

The US State Department is obviously over staffed if it spends time analysing our domestic situation. Clearly from the “evidence” they cite they have relied on superficial data and haven’t bothered to understand what lies behind it, for example out of date and misleading census information.

The US is by far the most actively religious country in the developed world to the extent that no Senator or Congressman would dare to come out as atheist. Such is the hold over great swathes of US society that for many the result is the denial of science in favour of ridiculous creationist beliefs.

But instead of pushing back the frontiers of ignorance and superstition they appear to be embracing it. Their London embassy clearly thinks it appropriate to invite British religious “leaders” in for a chat. My advice to them is to mind your own business!

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy states:
The U.S. embassy encouraged interfaith dialogue to promote religious tolerance. Representatives from various ecumenical groups, such as the Three Faiths Forum, and other groups promoting religious tolerance are routinely included in embassy events.

Religion is the problem not the solution. The idea that the “three faiths” are going to agree on some of the main issues of our time is laughable, when one claims god given rights to a piece of land or another denies the right of its followers to use contraception. Whatever the “leaders” agree, on the ground it will never change, because each thinks that their faith is the “truth”.

Unless and until all religious faith is seen for what it really is; a belief in a fantasy created by man in order to explain the nature of his existence humankind will never grow up.

PS Anon/HG that was a very nice essay.

18 November 2010 at 09:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said... Islamic think tank, stated that many young Muslims believed they were portrayed as a "threat to society" by the media and often harassed by the police...

If it quacks like a duck etc etc etc - who the hell do they think the police should be watching in efforts to protect the country from Islamic Terrorists!


18 November 2010 at 09:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

It’s an ‘odd’ report because its assumptions are humanist. The authors of such reports cannot bring themselves to an understanding where they realise that it is Judaeo-Christian values that permit the flourishing of democracy. For example, we do not vote for a candidate because we think he has a right to equality but because we think no man is fit (because of the Fall) to govern us.

A democracy based upon Judaeo-Christian values is like a strong, tall tree that reaches to the heavens. All the birds of other religions and ideologies come and make nests in its branches.

The most poisonous bird of all is the woodpecker of humanism. Once it starts singing and drumming its values of humanism the sparrow believes it is equal in status to the eagle.

18 November 2010 at 10:06  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh

What a delightful array of ornithological metaphors.

You conflate humanism and equality. Humanism is barely a philosophy it simply recognises that you can have moral values without faith in any of the gods on offer. Equality is just that; it hardly needs explaining.

What you yearn for is for your particular religion to return to its previous pre-eminence. Prepare to be disappointed like the sparrow who returned to its nest only to find a cuckoo chick in it.

18 November 2010 at 10:19  
Anonymous PaganPride said...

Graham - do you have a life? You seem to haunt this blog like a spurned lover - hating what you can't have and abusing what you love.

You have become so repetitious in your arguments that I have started to scroll past your efforts because they bore me to tears. And I am not even a Christian!

18 November 2010 at 10:58  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Scroll on PaganPride

18 November 2010 at 11:20  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Graham Davis

Do we really have to have this conversation over and over and over again? Apparently so.

Your one dimensional world consists of only things you can see or touch or measure. You are like the blind man joining in a blog examining opto-aural experiences and any time anything to do with vision is mentioned simply saying, "Don't you realise light doesn't exist so how can you claim that the sun is orange".

Your constant inane interjection of "it's all silly coz it isn't true" is neither original, or insightful, or challenging, or anything except monotonous.

On a blog looking at the interaction of religious (of the Christian persuasion) & political (of the Conservative persuasion) objectives, if you dismiss 50% of what the blog is about then really, what is the point?

Please try and add some other stings to your bow, or otherwise abstain from the "Religious" aspects of this "Religio-political" blog.

[This is cut & pasted from a previous post where you made exactly the same point yet again. Saves me having to type it out ad naueseum every other post.]

18 November 2010 at 11:31  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

You may be right RebelSaint, I am beginning to bore myself!

So changing tack do you think the “three faiths” will ever be anything but competitors squabbling over their respective claims?

18 November 2010 at 12:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the other competitor faith: humanism.

18 November 2010 at 12:48  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Not only is it boring Graham, but it's slightly oddball that you come here like a demented preacher rattling on and on about how we are all doomed to hell if we don't repent and follow thee. Your slightly unhinged dude.

18 November 2010 at 16:01  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...


18 November 2010 at 16:01  
Blogger Roger Pearse said...

An interesting post, Cranmer - thank you. It is indeed interesting to see a point of view from somewhere outside.

18 November 2010 at 16:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree about the State Department Graham and any advice given by them should be thoroughly scrutinized. The State Department is a cesspool of progressives and they have lost alot of trust and respect from many Americans.

To understand our culture it is important to know that our founding fathers never intended to separate God from the people which is different than having an official church tied in with the government. They did not want a state church which is the basis of separation of church and state. However the 10 commandments adorn the walls of our Supreme Court and our money states "In God we trust." Our founding fathers believed the Christian Judeo principles would keep our nation moral and just and these principles were needed to preserve our republic. Our laws are made by an accepted standard of right and wrong based upon these principles.

Americans believe we have inalienable rights such as the right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness given to us from God, not the government, therefore no one has the right to take them away. God is the foundation of our republic. If your rights are granted by a Queen then who is to say they could not be taken away at will. The queen could decide today....all bloggers, off with their heads! That is why we believe these rights come from God and NO ONE can take them away and the foundation of our country was built upon these Christian and Judeo principles.

18 November 2010 at 16:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

above post signed by hg

18 November 2010 at 16:44  
Blogger Graham Davis said...


Amongst other things I am beta testing some new software and whilst it is stimulating I need break from time to time so I have a spare computer on which to “relieve” myself. As I like arguing I tease you guys although you seldom want to play ball! I used to debate on the now defunct Dawkins forum but got fed up as everyone agreed with each other. To me the process of defending and opinion is prerequisite of holding it in the first place? Most here seem content to keep their faith behind a firewall and I must confess that I find that a challenge even though I know that you will not change your views.

There is however one thing that really annoys me and that is collective opinion of many here that Christianity is the origin of morality and a precondition for an ethical society. You all cling to this opinion because you know that it is one of the few levers left by which to retain influence.

18 November 2010 at 17:35  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Graham Davis @ 12.11 that IS an interesting question, worthy of debate.

My own concern is that one of the three, vows to wipe-out t'other two! Well, wipe-out anything other than itself, that is.

That probably includes, at the forefront, such as yourself. Indeed, there's NO 'probably' about it, it's deffo! Not that I'm making any sort of a point here, other than stating the obvious. I think you've said as much yourself, on occasion?

I'm thinking the future will see many strange bed-fellows ... just keep your cold feet to yourself Graham! (chortles...)

18 November 2010 at 17:43  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

OMG you're doing it again. Everything you accuse us of, you are doing the exact same thing. You repeat the same things over and over like a monkey pulling a lever simply because he has worked out how to pull it. And the fact that you have a spare computer to relieve yourself is far too much information, it reminds me of a certain SONG

18 November 2010 at 21:29  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@Jared ... if there was a "Like" button I'd have clicked it. Even thought I know I'm not supposed to, laughed out loud at the song. Incredibly apt!!

18 November 2010 at 22:56  
Blogger William said...


You cannot have morals without absolutes. Once you establish some absolutes for your religion then you can start talking about morals. Until then, all you have is opinions. If a nihilist like you freely admits that life is meaningless then why do you even care about morals anyway? They are irrelevant! Oh yes I forgot; you just like to argue. It would be nice if you could argue from the logic of your own conclusions once in a while. Or better still; stop.

19 November 2010 at 07:57  
Anonymous Gerard Tibercross said...

I'm interested in the obvious errors in the report.

"It is government policy to ensure that public servants are not discriminated against on the basis of religious beliefs and to accommodate religious practices by government employees whenever possible."

We have seen that gay rights under UK legislation overtrump freedom of religion protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

I do not for a moment suggest that we should return to a policy of persecuting gays. I am reputed to be the first straight to join Gay Lib (I say reputed because the records back in those days were so erratic nobody really knows for sure). Come on: shirt lifters don't even make it into the top Ten. We know how Jesus treated the woman taken in adultery. Would he have treated the man caught cottaging any differently?

And what would Jesus have said about those government employees who have been adversely treated because of their faith?

"Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers." (Matthew 5:11 for those who don't recognise it).

Then there's:

"The government provides financial support - up to 90 percent of the total capital costs of the buildings and 100 percent of running costs, including teachers' salaries - to sectarian educational institutions that are commonly referred to as "faith schools."

This accurately reflect the current ararngements for minority faiths, and for the dottier sects within Christianity, bt ignores the fact that a significant proportion of our school buildings either pre-date the 1944 Butler Education Act, or were built substantially from funds realised from the sale of those buildings. Faith schools made the Butler act possible.

But I loved this gem:

"The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Christmas."

Easter Monday a religious festival? Like Boxing Day? It says something about the extent to which the authors of the report informed themselves.

Gerard Tibercross

19 November 2010 at 16:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Tibercross

‘We know how Jesus treated the woman taken in adultery. Would he have treated the man caught cottaging any differently?’


He told her to go and sin no more.

I take it that you will follow our Lord’s example with Gay Lib?

20 November 2010 at 11:34  
Anonymous Indigo said...

As an active supporter of the peace process in Northern Ireland, the U.S. government encouraged efforts to diminish sectarian tension and promote dialogue between the Protestant and Catholic communities

By looking the other way when Americans held fund-raising gigs and rattled collecting tins to help the IRA to buy more weapons.

20 November 2010 at 22:09  

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