REPORT ON UNITED FOR PEACE’S CHURCHES AND INTERFAITH WORK BY THE REVD BRIAN COOPER
APF is supporting UfP’s interfaith work in Edinburgh organised by The Revd Brian Cooper and will be involved in planning events during the year, probably during the Edinburgh festival.
An important event was held on 5 December 2015 hosted by the Annandale Street Mosque and attended by 150 people. Speaker summaries are as follows.
Mr. Aaurangzeb Haneef (Research Scholar at Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam & former Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Lahore University) discussed Muslim responses worldwide to ISIS, citing numerous examples of Muslim organisations and authorities condemning it as contrary to correct Muslim teaching. He raised the danger of Islamophobic reactions in UK, and of Muslims being falsely blamed for the ISIS perversion of Islam.
The Rt Revd Brian Smith, former Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, discussed Christian responses to ISIS, noting humanitarian aid to the region, deep concern for the plight of Christians in Middle East, and the need for Christians in UK to have deeper understanding of the Islamic world. It was vital to acknowledge the sense of humiliation among Middle East Muslims in the light of a tragic history stretching from the fall of the Ottoman Empire to the 2003 Iraq War and other Western interventions. It seemed ISIS wanted to reverse that by building a new order under a restored Caliphate.
The Revd Brian Cooper, UfP Churches & Inter-Faith Secretary, discussed radical anti-Western Islamist ideologies as the background to the rise of ISIS, especially referring to Ayatollah Khomeni's political theology of the 'Two Satans' [USA,USSR] needing to be overthrown, the influence of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood theorist Syed Qutb whose book Milestones urged return to original pure Islam to restore Muslim power, and Osama Bin-Laden's radically violent anti-Westernism and desire to restore the Caliphate. The apocalyptic dimension of ISIS's vision was also discussed.
Inspector T. Galbraith [Police Scotland] discussed the role of the police in protecting mosques, tackling hate crime, and working with Muslim communities to help overcome alienation. The Open Forum especially discussed inter-faith co-operation to overcome religious extremism.