Barcelona, Turku, Greenbelt and a Giant Samosa!


image credit: Ruben Whitehouse/flickr

This week's media has been dominated by the Barcelona attack where a van was driven into people in a popular street, Las Ramblas, in Barcelona. 13 people were killed and another killed in a separate attack at a seaside town. Incredibly an Australian who survived the attack was also present in terrorist attacks in London and Paris.  Although recieving a lower profile in the media Finland also experienced its first ever terrorist attack.  where two women were killed and six injured. A Moroccan man has admitted his role in the attack and three other Moroccan men have appeared in court.  The President of Finland has stated:

“The people’s security and feeling of safety has been shaken.”

In the aftermath of the attack in Barcelona thousands of Muslims have joined marches against terrorism attended by the President, Mayor and members of the local council.  A statement expressing support for the victims was read by representatives of the Islamic community in Spanish, Catalan and Arabic. Banners were also displayed throughout the protest.

The crowd held placards reading “We are also victims,” “Terrorism has no religion,” and “We are all Barcelona, not terrorisms.”

At the front of the procession was a large green banner reading: “We are Muslims, not terrorists.”

The situation in Europe will be further inflamed by yesterday's publication of a cartoon in the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine. The cover shows a white van and bodies on the floor with the words, " Islam, the religion of Eternal Peace."  The editor has justified the publication on the grounds that it is a message that the French leadership were to afraid to share. Former French MPs have stated that the publication was "very dangerous" and urged restraint. On social media many people have criticised the magazine for spreading Islamophobia

In the week after the attacks Channel 4 has aired a four part drama about Islamic State.(Available to watch here) The programme viewed by 1.4 million people has been criticised as a recruiting tool. The daughter of David Haines who was killed by ISIS in 2014 urged that programme be postponed in the wake of the Barcelona attacks. However many expressed a more positive opinion.

“One of the most thought provoking, brave and terrifying things I’ve ever seen.”
”extraordinary piece of work”.
”I thought #thestate was gripping and depressing...In no way did it glamourise ISIS if anything it should put people off.”

Following on from the drama one evening this week was a repeat of My Son the Jihadi. The award winning 2015 programme follows the story of how Thomas Evans, a 21 year old electrician, left High Wycombe to join al-Shabaab in Somalia. According to the Telegraph "it was a stunningly sad, detailed and dignified portrait of a devastated mother , and a masterful piece of television about British citizens being recruited to terrorist organisations abroad." After four years in Somalia his mum leaned that her son, a vulnerable convert to Islam, had been killed. 

Clothing is always in the media. One Muslim model has been celebrated for being the first contestant to appear in a Kaftan rather than a bikini. In another report a TV presenter has posted a picture of herself on holiday in a bikini and received death threats as a result. 

On a more upbeat note, Christians and Muslims are working together in Lebanon. Organised by a Carmalite nun based at a monastery two and a half miles away from the fighting with Islamic State, Working together up to 300 people work together to make lunches for 5000 soldiers who are battling against Islamic State.  Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross has stated, " is a beautiful expression of solidarity...All religions are unified with the purest love for our country, our wounded country,

In news closer to home, Greenbelt is  building bridges with the  Muslim Community as part of a commitment made after the 9/11 attacks.  However they stress that they are not promoting Islam rather to overcome the headlines and to share and to learn about one another.

And finally its official! The Guinness Book of Records has a new record. The biggest Samosa has been created by volunteers at Muslim Aid UK. They beat the previous 2012, 110.8 kg  record samosa that was held by Bradford College. The winning samosa took 12 volunteers 15 hours to make . It was created on a huge wire mesh, lowered into a massive vat of cooking oil and officially weighed in at an East London Mosque. The enormous samosa weighed in at a humungous  153.1 kg. It has been divided up into hundreds of portions to be distributed to homeless people in London by the Salvation Army.