Upper VI and Red Wednesday research

Posted: 26th November 2020

Awareness raising.

Mrs McDermott, Head of R.E., reports on Upper VI’s work in General R.E., which has particular significance as this week saw Red Wednesday, raising awareness of the work of Aid to the Church in Need and the plight of those who are discriminated against because of their faith.

‘Upper VI are learning about the work of Aid to the Church in Need. One of their main campaigns is Red Wednesday, a day that draws attention to the human rights tragedy of Christian and other religious persecution. 

Here are some of the case studies the students investigated as part of their work:

“In General RE, we have been learning about Aid to the Church in need and religious discrimination. One example we studied was an incident in Kafanchan state in Northern Nigeria, in April 2017.  During an Easter Vigil Mass, twelve people, including a young mother called Dorkas Zakka, were killed by Fulani herdsmen.  The anti-Christian Fulani targeted St John’s Catholic Church in Asso town. They chased Dorkas back to her home and killed her on her kitchen floor; nine other people were also killed. The Parish priest, Father Alexander Yeyock expressed his outrage at the actions of the military to Aid to the Church in Need saying: “The military were there during the Easter Vigil attack…they didn’t do anything. They allowed the Fulani herdsmen in””. 

“In General RE, we have been learning about Aid to the Church in Need and varying degrees of religious persecution. One of the case studies that we looked at was an attack by a suicide bomber on a Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt. This attack occurred during a Mass in December 2016, when at least 29 people were killed and more than 50 people were injured.

Following the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility and stated on Facebook that future attacks would follow “against every infidel and apostate in Egypt”. Four months later, in April 2017 on Palm Sunday, suicide bombers targeted two churches in Alexandria and Tanta, resulting in 44 dead and more than 120 injured.

This is an example of religious persecution on an extreme level. ISIS targeted these people for their faith and so they live in fear of practising it, as well as having to endure the suffering of the places where they practise their faith being destroyed. This is why Red Wednesday is necessary. To raise awareness of this persecution and to go to Mass for those who cannot”.

“In 2008 Samantha, a 17-year-old Muslim went for an interview at an Abercrombie Kids store in Oklahoma. She was wearing her headscarf, or hijab. Samantha did not say at the interview that she wanted the company to give her a religious accommodation that would allow her to wear the hijab. She did not get the job. The company has a ‘look policy’ which the hijab violated in two separate ways: it was black and it was considered to be headwear.

A spokesperson for Abercrombie & Fitch said: “While the Supreme Court reversed the decision, it did not determine that Abercrombie & Fitch discriminated against Ms Elauf”. This case united Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other religious groups. The vote in favour of Samantha was 8-1. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sued the company on her behalf.

This is an example of religious persecution because Samantha had been discriminated against because of a symbol of her religion which should not be described as ‘headwear’; this should not be a valid reason for someone not to get a job”.

“During the Easter weekend of 2016 in Glasgow, a Muslim shop keeper called Mr Shah who was a Ahmadiyya Muslim took to social media to post ‘Good Friday and very happy Easter especially to my beloved Christian nation!’ This so outraged another Muslim, Mr Ahmed, that he stabbed Mr Shah to death. Mr Ahmed defended his actions on the fact that the constitution of Pakistan does not consider Ahmadiyya a part of Islam, and he claimed that anyone who disrespects Islam is justified in dying.  This conveys how someone who has opposing views is not safe, even though everyone should be entitled to their own views and choice”.’  

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