Politics and Religion

The Chief Rabbi, Dr Ephraim Mirvis, has (justifiably) castigated the Labour party for failing to deal with institutional Anti-Semitism in its midst. No sooner had the Rabbi’s statement been made public than the Muslim Council of Great Britain, predictably, made an equal and opposite claim.

“Muslims are a diverse community and realise different Muslims will make up their own minds on who to vote for. But the way that the Chief Rabbi had shared his experiences and insights, has highlighted the importance of speaking out on the racism we face, whilst maintaining our non-partisan stance. 

As a faith community, we commonly are threatened by Islamophobia. This an issue that is particularly acute in the Conservative Party who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal and deceit. It is abundantly clear to many Muslims that the Conservative Party tolerates Islamophobia, allows it to fester in society, and fails to put in place the measures necessary to root out this type of racism. It is as if the Conservative Party has a blind spot for this type of racism. 

But distinctions need to be made.

Anti-semitism, in this and other countries, has had a long and varied history. It is inevitably coloured by recollections of the Russian pogroms and Nazi death camps. Which caused so many Jews to flee to England for security and tolerance. The fantasies of a Jewish plot for World domination have proved, on examination, to be febrile and unfounded. No tenet of Rabbinic Judaism encourages or sanctions violence.

Islamophobia, by contrast, is a relatively new phenomenon. Its very name is a recent construct, about which there has been no little controversy. It has arisen in the West largely in response to actual violence by terrorists claiming Muslim allegiance (the Twin Towers, the Charlie Hebdo incident, and countless others). There can be no doubt that one interpretation of Islamic texts sanctions such outrages.

It is a sad fact, however, that no political party in the United Kingdom respects the core beliefs of religious people, be they Muslim, Jewish or Christian. On major issues like abortion, euthanasia and sexual ethics the consensus of the political class (Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat) is far removed from the precepts of any of the ‘Abrahamic faiths’.

This is no time to jockey for victim status between them. It is a time to make common cause in the name of all that is holy.

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