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the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS VOL 169 NO 18 3 Osama’s death prompts mixed reactions 4 Arresting times 5 ‘The hardest hit’
Hilary Davies 6-7 Love your enemy Ian Flintoff 8-9 Letters 10-11 Fleeing fascism
Rose Holmes 12-13 At the gates of heaven Sinéad Brady 14 Stuffed and starved Evelyn Ross 15 The Eternal Leslie Fuhrmann 16 Q-eye 17 Friends & Meetings
Cover image: A detail of one figure from the Kindertransport commemorative sculpture by Frank Meisler at Liverpool Street Station in London. Photo: UggBoy♥UggGirl/flickr CC. See pages 10-11.
Image this page: Kindertransport commemorative sculpture by Frank Meisler at London’s Liverpool Street Station. Photo: Matthew Black/flickr CC. See pages 10-11.
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the Friend, 6 May 2011 News
Osama’s death prompts mixed reactions
FAITH GROUPS AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS have cautioned against celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden. Some have also been critical of the killing and warned that it is unlikely to make the world safer.
There were initial scenes of jubilation in the United States at the weekend as US president Barack Obama insisted that bin Laden’s death ‘should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity’.
The Vatican was one of the first religious institutions to respond, stating that bin Laden was responsible for ‘causing the deaths of innumerable people and manipulating religions for this purpose’. But the Vatican’s statement insisted that ‘a Christian never rejoices’ at death but works for ‘the further growth of peace and not of hatred’.
Quakers were among those with broader concerns. Some have suggested that ‘assassinating’ bin Laden may not have been the right course of action. ‘Osama bin Laden organised many atrocities, but I would question the right of any state to summarily ‘eliminate’ any person and dump the body in the sea,’ wrote Ken Veitch of East Cheshire Area Meeting in a letter to the Friend (see letters, p 8-9).
Bin Laden’s death should also call UK and US foreign policy into question, according to Alan Wilson, the Church of England’s bishop of Buckingham. He pointed out: ‘The billions spent and hundreds of thousands killed in conventional war in Iraq, and even the fourth Afghan War, seem to have had nothing at all to do with his demise’. Muslim peace activist Salma Yaqoob, a city councillor in Birmingham, said she would not be mourning bin Laden. She said: ‘He claimed to defend Muslims, but his actions simply brought devastation and misery to countless Muslims across the world’. She added that Western leaders had played into bin Laden’s hands with wars that ‘gave succour to bin Laden’s narrative that the West was really engaged in a war against Islam’.
Religious responses in the USA have been more varied. Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who relies heavily on Christian support, said that ‘decent people the world over’ should ‘cheer the news’ of bin Laden’s death. Christopher Morgan of the Gospel Coalition insisted that Christians ‘can rightly rejoice in the defeat and judgment upon people who are evil’.
In contrast, the American Christian writer Brian McLaren said that the image of jubilant crowds ‘does not reflect well on my country’. He added: ‘Joyfully celebrating the killing of a killer, who joyfully celebrated killing, carries an irony that I hope will not be lost on us. Are we learning anything, or simply spinning harder in the cycle of violence?’
Egyptian pacifist jailed
PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS have expressed dismay at the news that an Egyptian pacifist has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for ‘insulting the military’. Maikel Nabil Sanad was active in the recent Egyptian revolution and published an article criticising the armed forces’ role in the event (see ‘Conscientious objectors appear in court’, 8 April).
A military court has convicted him of publishing ‘false news’ about the armed forces, in a decision criticised by the Quaker United Nations Office and War Resisters International (WRI). WRI say that Maikel Nabil Sanad’s friends, relatives and supporters were told by officials that the trial had been postponed, keeping them away from court at the time that he was being sentenced.
This is not Maikel Nabil Sanad’s first imprisonment. As the founder of the ‘No to Compulsory Military Service’ movement, he was frequently harassed by the authorities under the Mubarak regime for his pacifist activities.
‘To try a civilian in a military court is against all international human rights standards,’ insisted Andreas Speck of WRI. ‘If the authorities want to put Maikel Nabil Sanad on trial – for which there is no reason whatsoever – they should do so in front of a civilian criminal court.’
Symon Hill the Friend, 6 May 2011