Thursday, 15 April 2010


I’ve been out a few times this week leafleting for Salma Yaqoob’s campaign to become the first Muslim woman MP in the UK. Standing on a progressive programme of investment, green initiatives, ethical foreign policies and for a vigorous and creative defence of multiculturalism , she has a real chance of being elected in my local constituency of Hall Green, where in the Sparkbrook ward she has been an impressive councillor for the last 4 years.

Salma has developed a significant national political profile appearing on Question Time and national media in her role as campaigning councillor and anti-war activist. Although officially standing as a Respect Party candidate she has built a good progressive alliance in support of her campaign beyond traditional party boundaries, with the Green Party officially endorsing her candidacy and support coming from major figures in the local Labour Party; including the public support of outgoing principled MP Lynne Jones who resides in the Moseley and Kings Heath ward of the Constituency.

Salma's faith inspired politics should be appealing to Christians committed to community action and global justice. She spoke at my book launch about how influenced she is by Islamic liberation theologian Farid Esack - a leading activist in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa in 1980s and a prominant voice in the Global South initiated interfaith Peace for Life movement. She draws inspiration from creative radicals like Arundhati Roy and Naomi Klein - she represents a real possibility of having a Member of Parliament committed to the radical global justice movement as well as being a locally rooted MP, resisting cuts in public services, promoting green initiatives, campaigning for an ethical foreign policy and resisting the rising tide of racism and Islamophobia.

If you live in Hall Green constituency please consider voting for her and actively supporting her campaign.

If you don't live in Hall Green consider actively support her campaign.

For more information ring 07812 172 885

Follow Salma's campaign through her regularly updated blog at

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


I was unable to get to Dudley on Holy Saturday when the racist EDL came to town but by all accounts there was an excellent united local response. This developed around a locally inter faith inspired One Borough initiative and led to a creative and peaceful counter gathering with the Bishop of Dudley speaking, organised by local inter faith networks, Muslim community groups and Unite Against Fascism.

The EDL exposed their true colours - frustrated by not being able to wind up or get into a fight with a confrontational counter demo (because there wasn't one!) they sought to break the police lines and attacked a mosque but were quickly contained by police. Any nonsense about the EDL not being racist and Islamophobic can now surely be put to rest and the change in attitude by the police authorities in Dudley to how they reacted when the EDL came to Birmingham, should now be repeated around the country. The EDL are an anti Muslim pogrom movement - and if they can't be banned from gathering then they should be treated as violent hooligans and policed in that fashion.

The excellent anti fascist and local community response in Dudley should also be repeated wherever the EDL threaten to gather - concentrating on drawing together a wide coalition of groups for a creative peaceful counter-gathering, away from the EDL, that celebrates multiculturalism rather than directly confronting the EDL, whilst building a strong broad local consensus that demands the police authorities approach policing of the EDL as defending local communities from their abuse and violent attack rather than facilitating the EDL's 'right to protest'.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Buddhist Christian?

One of the least talked about but growing phenomenons in our contemporary culture is the rise of Buddhism in the west and the increasing number of Christians who are finding benefit in a serious engagement with Buddhism some of whom end up becoming Buddhists. In my last parish the congregation included people who termed themselves Christian - Buddhists, people who were in relationships with Buddhists and/or incorporated Buddhist practices into their own spirituality and others who had less neatly worked out relationships with Buddhism and Christianity even if they strongly and publically identified with one over the other..

One of the most read books on the reading list of my recent module at Queen's on Christianity and Dialogue was Paul Knitter's latest work Without Buddha I could not be a Christian so widely read amongst the Buddhist stream was it that the librarian has ordered extra copies for next year!

I have discovered that Paul now has a blog How a Buddhist Christian Sees It and there is also an interesting podcast of him in discussion on 'Walking more than one path - Is multi religious belonging possible?'

As an alternative to Knitter's approach you can take a look at Harold Netland and Keith Yendall Buddhism: A Christian Exploration and Appraisal which whist respectful and engaing with Buddhsim take a more traditional view of Buddhist - Christian Relations. Or to see how Buddhist - Christian interface has been explored in Sri Lanka see Aloysius Pieris ' Love meets Wisdom