What the. Media isn't Reporting about. Pope Francis in the Middle East
|The Pope in Jordan|
Interesting that this side of the Pope's Middle East visit has not seen much light. Also interesting when you consider that we have seen yet more evidence of Islam's need to isolate itself from the rest of society rather than integrate, and to peddle retrograde fundamentalist ideology. For an example, take the library books at Olive Tree Primary School in Luton which promoted stoning.
Naturally, this and the whole "trojan horse" scandal, has led to a public outcry which broadly advocates that all faith schools should be shut down and promotes a secularist agenda which separates private belief from the delivery of a public good. But who sets the agenda? Who says what is a public good and what is not? What if your idea of a public good includes teaching my seven-year-old about homosexual acts and abortion, and my idea of public good is diametrically opposed to that? In an effort to be balanced, the BBC has done its best to find an equally extreme Christian ideology....Except that its not really is it?
You can't force people to think a certain way by means of legislation. I thought we had learnt that lesson?
And anyway, as has been said a thousand times, if Christian schools are brainwashing people, they're doing a rubbish job at it! No, the problem is not faith schools, and therefore cannot be solved by limited people's freedom of belief, the problem is Islamic extremism.
As the foundation governor of a faith school I can say with absolute confidence that the facts are that faith schools are open to all, certainly not intolerant, and among the most successful schools in the country.
We have to ask the question then, what really went wrong in Birmingham? Tim Stanley offers the following explanation:
In the 2000s, a large number of people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin moved to Birmingham – and once they arrived they, understandably, went about trying to make local schools reflect the culture of the countries that they came from. Nothing wrong or odd about that, except that – as Ofsted’s report indicates – the schools’ management in a few cases allowed the schools to become separated from British society and failed to inculcate a sense of belonging in a national community increasingly defined by multi-faith, multicultural values. Worse, these places are alleged to have become targets for extremists and even the promotion of Islamist politics. By so doing, they essentially broke the spirit of the national curriculum and betrayed Muslim parents and pupils who would want nothing of gender-segregated classes or assemblies spent bashing America. These awful things aren't a reflection on the healthy role that mainstream religion can play within education. It speaks instead to problems found within a particular community and a particular branch of a particular faith: rather like if a bunch of Scientologists took over a school in Los Angeles or Lefebvrists seized control of a French primary school. In other words, Michael Gove is right. What happened in Birmingham was the product of the Home Office’s failure actively to promote integration among immigrant communities. I’m not sure that teaching this nebulous idea of “British values” will correct the problem, but at least it recognises that a problem exists.
Something else that might help is what Park View’s local MP – Labour’s Liam Byrne – has advocated. Turn Park View into a faith school. That way it can both keep its Islamic character and be instructed to take 50 per cent non-Muslim students. Counter-intuitively, faith schools can prove more diverse than their secular alternative.So, what has Pope Francis been up to that ties into this then? Well, CNS News reports that during his first official visit to the Middle East, Pope Francis hasn't shirked confrontation with problematic Muslim ideology, rather he has repeatedly told Muslim audiences that religious freedom is “a fundamental human right” and that governments must allow people to choose their own faith.
“Religious freedom is in fact a fundamental human right and I cannot fail to express my hope that it will be upheld throughout the Middle East and the entire world,” the Pope said in a May 24th address to King Abdullah II, ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Queen Rania at the Al Husseini Royal Palace in Amman.
The Hashemites are direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.
Quoting from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, which called religious freedom “the pinnacle of other freedoms,” Pope Francis continued:
“The right to religious freedom ‘includes on the individual and collective levels the freedom to follow one’s conscience in religious matters and, at the same time, freedom of worship….[it also includes] the freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public.’”Pope Francis then repeated the same message the next day in his meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials in Bethlehem.
While expressing his “profound hope” that “peace will be pursued with tireless determination and tenacity,” the pontiff once again stressed the need for religious freedom.
“Respect for this fundamental human right is, in fact, one of the essential conditions for peace, fraternity and harmony,” he said.
On May 26, the final day of his three-day pilgrimage, Pope Francis met with Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, and the president of the Islamic Supreme Council at the Dome of the Rock to mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s historic visit to the Holy Land.
The Temple Mount site is holy to both Muslims, who believe it is where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, and Jews, who believe it is where God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and where their First and Second Temples were built.
“Dear brothers, dear friends, from this holy place I make a heartfelt plea to all people and to all communities who look to Abraham: may we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters! May we learn to understand the sufferings of others!” the Pope said.“May no one abuse the name of God through violence!” Pope Francis told the Muslim religious leaders.
I'm glad the Holy Father recognises the threat posed by militant Islam. It seems to be all we hear on the news at the moment, problems caused by extremist Islamic ideals which seek to impose religious values on others. Of course, this has always been the case with Islam, this is how it was born, and how it spread, we shouldn't be surprised to see it still going on. The sooner we address this fundamental ideological problem, the sooner we can begin to resolve the issues.