There is much about war in the news at the moment and while many try to distance religion from it, it is certainly implicated.The situation in Mosul in Iraq is dire with the last Christians having fled the city on pain of death. His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Church in this country, Co-chair of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and Chair of the Churches Interreligious Network has issued the following statement:
"As the widespread violence and aggression facing Christians and minority groups in Mosul, Iraq, intensifies, it is increasingly evident that the fundamental right and freedom to practice one’s Faith and belief is, and continues to be, grossly violated.
We are currently witnessing an unacceptable widespread implementation of extremist religious ideology that threatens the lives of all Iraqi’s who do not fit within its ever-narrowing perspective. While this situation stands to eradicate centuries of co-existence and culture in the region it also threatens to significantly and negatively impact these communities for generations to come. If left unchallenged, it is not Iraq alone that is at risk, but the potential is intensified for the replication of this ideology as a viable and legitimate model for others across the Middle East.
As the situation escalates, little is being said in the worldwide community, and I am therefore appreciative of the recent comment by The Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies, and their Chairman, His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, expressing its concern over the current situation in Mosul. Comments such as this have the potential to positively influence these and similar situations by challenging what is being taught, and presenting an alternative religious understanding.
We continue to pray and advocate for all whose God-given right to freedom is denied, hoping that acceptance and respect for all is realised in these affected communities, and that grace, healing and strength will be given to those who continue to suffer great atrocities and the loss of precious human life."
The present conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has resulted in a rise of anti-semitism. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation Jews in Britain are not responsible as Muslims are not responsible for terrorism committed in their name. The Council of Christians and Jews has published the following statement:
"The news from Israel and Gaza continues to shock and horrify, and we renew our prayers for a breakthrough to end the death and destruction. Of concern also is the escalation of physical violence and verbal assaults directed against Jewish people and property around Europe. Reports in the media highlight the fear of Jews in Britain, irrespective of their views on the conflict, who are being targeted by ignorant and malicious people. We call upon those of all faiths and none to stand up against racism and antisemitism wherever it occurs".