Mosque to be built in Hereford

Muslims in Herefordshire are firmly on the way to building the county’s first mosque.

The Herefordshire Muslim Society has been renting the Kindle Centre for prayer for a number of years but feels it is outgrowing the space and needs a centre of its own.

The society has so far raised around £40,000 through individual donations. They aim to register as a charity and to find a suitable location in the centre of Hereford.

Despite the fact that the society has been getting on with its business peacefully for years, this move will be controversial.

So let’s lay our cards on the table: as anarchists we don’t believe in a god–whether a Christian, Muslim, Jewish or whatever god–and we reject the teachings of their disciples on earth.

What’s more, religions have proved divisive and destructive and great atrocities have been committed by their followers throughout history.

Islam is no exception and the beginning of this century alone has seen Muslim fanatics commit numerous attacks on innocent people resulting in the death of thousands.

All religions have their lunatic fringes as well as the conservative movements that are discriminatory, intolerant and in some cases abusive. These must be opposed (including Hereford’s own).

Yet these people are in the minority and whilst a few sick and twisted nutjobs have been stealing the headlines, millions of other Muslims have been disgusted by what has been carried out in their name. The vast majority of followers–although believing in something we find hard to see any sense in–are peaceful and compassionate individuals.

Our objections to any realised mosque in Hereford–if any–must be based on genuine fact and not suspicion, idle gossip or a fear of something we don’t understand.

Intelligence and rationality are the order of the day here.

Religious fundamentalists target Hereford youth

There is growing concern amongst parents and youth workers in Hereford about the increasing influence of Christian fundamentalists on young people. In particular the growing influence of Freedom Church who, through the work carried out by their youth group 2XL, are being openly promoted and funded by Herefordshire Council, as seen with the free two-page advert in this month’s ‘Herefordshire Matters.’

Christian fanatics like Freedom Church hide behind the veneer of forward thinking, welcoming, new-age acceptability. But look beyond the shiny PR and you’ll find a group that disregards science in favour of ‘creationism’, thinks of contraception and homosexuality as unholy and believe that women should be subservient to dominant males. In all a narrow minded and unethical, fundamentalist cult.

Of course like all religious groups Freedom Church promote the work they do here and abroad as the positive work of god, and any youth work that 2XL is involved in is heavily regulated. But what many people are asking is how a church with such extreme views can get paid to deliver sexual health work in schools. How do they approach subjects like abortion, homosexuality and gender issues?

Freedom Church is not the only organisation causing concern. Questions are being asked about the work done by the Closed House in Hereford. What is the real agenda of these people? Are they simply trying to recruit more members? We have religious freedom in this country but we also have a duty to protect young people from the damaging influence of religious groups. We can only imagine the uproar if these groups were part of the Muslim faith.

We at Hereford Solidarity League believe there is no place for religion in education, but it should be up to every student, parent and teacher to decide who is involved in schools and youth groups.  Choices can only be made if groups like Freedom Church and Close House are forced to make it clear who they are and what they stand for.

Remembrance

Veterans from the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland have criticised the use of the red poppy to support current wars and conflicts.

In a letter printed in today’s Guardian they write: “The Poppy Appeal is once again subverting Armistice Day. A day that should be about peace and remembrance is turned into a month-long drum roll of support for current wars. This year’s campaign has been launched with showbiz hype. The true horror and futility of war is forgotten and ignored.”

The public are being urged to wear a poppy in support of “our Heroes”. There is nothing heroic about being blown up in a vehicle. There is nothing heroic about being shot in an ambush and there is nothing heroic about fighting in an unnecessary conflict.”

Remembrance should be marked with the sentiment ‘Never Again.’ Since the 1920s, some people have worn white poppies rather than red ones, in the belief that the best way to honour those who have died is to commit to active peacemaking.

The white poppy was made by women who had lost loved ones in World War One. They approached the makers of red poppies, and asked them to print ?no more war? in the centre of the poppies. Their request was refused, so they made white ones instead.

The British Legion insists that red poppies are ‘neutral’. However, they also say that the poppy is about remembering soldiers not civilians, only British soldiers and not ‘enemy’ soldiers, and states that they are about remembering those ‘who died for our freedom.’

Robert Lee, the British Legion’s spokesman, told the Guardian: “I am glad that they have noticed the change in campaigning. It’s a fair cop. There have been criticisms, mainly from older veterans.

“We are the national custodians of remembrance but we are living in contemporary society. Not everything we do with the poppy appeal has to be static and serious, or conducted with a frown. It was very generous of the X Factor wearing poppies, that’s caused quite a stir of Twitter, with people asking what they are.

“There is nothing in our appeal or campaigning which supports, or does not support, war: we are totally neutral. We are not a warmongering organisation. We don’t have a position on war in Iraq or anywhere else. These boys don’t send themselves to Iraq, that’s a decision for the politicians.”