Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Protest noted

The 'night time economy' of Cardiff attracts media attention from time to time, although far less since Cardiff police got the measure of the public order problems, in a way that made their operations exemplary for other forces tackling similar issues. Binge drinking culture everywhere in Britain is now starting to attract media reports from medical specialists and others concerned about alcohol related illnesses caused by excess consumption. It's less frequent that ministers of religion critical of current morés get reported. Clerical objection to a new licensing application to sell alcohol in a convenience store on Cardiff's main thoroughfare, just outside the zone recently declared by City licensing policy as meriting a moratorium on further liquor licenses did however find modest cover in the 'South Wales Echo' this week.

What the article does not mention is the lack of consultation by the licensing policy drafting group with any faith groups or groups with alcohol related health concerns in shaping proposals. Anything up to one in ten of Cardiff citizens who might have something critical to say about the current state of affairs, impacting so seriously on the quality of life in the city were thereby excluded. Can this state of affairs continue when the new Equalities Act is implemented?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Faith and social cohesion

Opinion makers and politicians voice concern over the fragmentation of society, family breakdown increase in knife and gun crime, binge culture and the alienation of individuals leading to violent extremist acts. The Government believes that Faith Communities have an important role to play in propagating values that make for social cohesion. Through the agency of the C.D.F. it has shown itself willing to fund projects like this one, and more. Now a most important regulatory body, the Charity Commission has launched a dedicated unit to offer support to faith based communities.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Religious identity - right or threat?

Sarika Singh

A 14-year-old girl has been excluded from Aberdare Girls Grammar School for wearing a Sikh bangle, or Kara. Sarika Singh refuses to remove her Kara, as it is a religious symbol, one of the five 'K's which identify devout Sikhs.

Sarika said of wearing the bangle : " It's very important to me. It constantly reminds me to do good and not to do bad, especially with my hands."

In the light of the governors' decision to exclude her, it is interesting to consider the school's prospectus statement of ethos and values.

Three select items from that statement ....
  • The basis of all our dealings with each pupil is that the pupil will receive care and respect.

  • The education our pupils receive will encourage the tolerance of other races, religions and ways of life.

The school rightly demands much of its students
  • We, as a school, are committed to setting and expecting the highest standards in all aspects of school life.

What place apart from 'tolerance' is accorded by the secular education system to standards and values upheld by those for whom a religious identity is the key priority in life?

How has exemplary 'tolerance' here lead to a pupil being excluded?

Shades of battles elsewhere over the hijab, and a chastity ring.

Read the full report here