By the Revd Albert Cadmore
Parish Priest at Horsey & West Somerton
Just a couple of weeks ago, many of us attended Christmas services in our local churches and the familiar words of many carols remain fresh in the memory. With the coming of the New Year, as I reflected on the past year and looked to the future, a line from O Little Town of Bethlehem, ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in t
hee tonight’, kept coming to mind. Those hopes and fears are my focus in this article.
Back in May, I couldn’t believe it when I heard about the horrific murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich; I was I London at the time, less than 10 miles away from those awful events, and as I write, his killers have just been convicted of murder and await sentencing.
Whilst visiting London just before Christmas, I became aware that a group of Muslim prote
sters had marched on Brick Lane, the road near Liverpool Street famous for its curry houses, threatening restaurant and off-licence owners selling alcohol with forty lashes as punishment for doing so, against the teaching of the Koran, under Sharia law. Their leader, Anjem Choudray, was later invited to contribute his views on the Lee Rigby affair on the Radio 4 Today programme. On air he repeatedly refused to condemn the murder.
Choudray has claimed that Britain will be a majority Muslim country by 2050 and my fear is that such extremists will co
ntinue to be allowed to preach their message of violence, intolerance and hatred.
However, I have been encouraged to read that some prominent Muslims have distanced themselves from his views, and that the executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, has said, ‘It (the Toay appearance) was a massive error of judgment and it does so much damage. Why him? He has no legitimacy in the Muslim community. We need to understand how this was allowed to happen. We need to articulate to the BBC the anger and disappointment that he was given this platform.’
This pronouncement gives me encouragement, and my hope for 2014 and beyond, is that the leaders of all religions and multi-cultural groups will be more ready for dialogue than confrontation, and for understanding than dogmatism. The quest for all must be for peace, in a climate of mutual understanding and respect.
The Dalai Lama once said, ‘We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.’
My profound hope for 2014 is that a search for such peace can become an overarching goal for people of all cultures and faiths. As St Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, ‘And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’ If only such peace could be more widespread the world would certainly be a better and more peaceful and hopeful place.