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Societal Religious Freedom

Societal Religious Freedom in United Kingdom in 2016

On November 15, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis launched an initiative entitled In Good Faith, which began with an all-day conference for priests and rabbis serving similar local areas in England. The aim was to create relationships between pairs of priests and rabbis and discuss the challenges of creating and sustaining thriving faith communities, combating religious extremism, developments in the Holy Land and implications for interreligious relations, and opportunities to contribute to the common good together. Archbishop Welby acknowledged the Church of England’s own history of intolerance and deep-seated anti-Semitism and stated that he was ready to be answerable and held accountable for both “implicit” and “willful” anti-Semitism.

This issue of Religious Freedom in United Kingdom

On August 28, unknown individuals destroyed 13 Jewish graves in Belfast. Police investigated eight youths who knocked over headstones and in some cases used hammers to destroy markers. Officials condemned the incident and local authorities offered assistance to rectify the damage. A senior Jewish community member in Belfast expressed concern to local media outlets that the incident, coupled with anti-Semitic vandalism on other Jewish sites in Belfast and other cities, represented a rise in anti-Semitism in the region.

Other Developments in 2016

On July 18, a Bristol court jailed two men and gave suspended sentences to two women who pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated public order offenses in connection with a January 18 incident at Bristol Jamia Mosque in Totterdown, when the perpetrators hung pig meat outside the mosque and shouted insults at those praying inside. After the incident, Chief Inspector Kevin Rowlands said “behavior of this kind is totally unacceptable. Our communities have the right to live and worship peacefully without fear of being targeted for their race or religion.” All four were given a restraining order preventing them from going anywhere within 300 feet of a mosque in England or Wales for 10 years.

Some Details

In January a man was arrested on suspicion of “racially or religiously aggravated provocation” by Lancashire police after he dumped two pig heads outside an Islamic girls’ school in Lancashire in December 2015. Police labeled the incident as a hate crime against Muslims.

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In June Belfast police investigated an arson attack on a Jewish war memorial. Two containers filled with flammable liquid were set on fire next to the memorial. Pastor Paul Burns, of Jewish heritage, from the Adullam Christian Fellowship in Belfast condemned the attack and said Belfast’s Jewish community had been “deeply hurt, deeply alarmed” by the incident. Police treated the incident as a hate crime and were investigating the case at year’s end. Source: 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State, 2017

Societal Religious Freedom in United Kingdom in 2016

In September an object was thrown at the central mosque in Edinburgh, causing minor fire damage to a door. A 28-year-old man was charged with arson aggravated by religious and racial prejudice.

This issue of Religious Freedom in United Kingdom

On September 5, the Belfast Islamic Center was defaced with paint. Police were investigating the incident as a hate crime. The Alliance Party and Sinn Fein Party both condemned the vandalism and called for help identifying the perpetrators. Source: 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State, 2017



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  • Article Name: Societal Religious Freedom
  • Author: Nathan Rivera
  • Description: Societal Religious Freedom in United Kingdom in 2016 On November 15, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and UK Chief [...]

This entry was last updated: February 25, 2020

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