Remember the Somme, Pray for Turkey, Pray for us all

Today (July 1st, 2016) is the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.  As I write this various services and acts of remembrance are going on in many different places and attended by people from many different cultures.  At Morning Prayer today we remembered those who died at the Somme and those who have died or been wounded by the latest bombings by so called “Islamic State” in Istanbul.  We have also remembered in our prayers this week the present state of our nation after the Brexit vote.  This has shown up the deep divisions in our society: the deep fear and anxiety about “the foreigner” – an anxiety that is as old as the hills.  At its worse it has given rise to a sharp increase in crimes of hate.  We don’t know for sure but it appears we have been lied to in the EU referendum campaign about certain things by those who were voted in to be our representatives.  Who do we trust?  Where do we turn to when we are cynically manipulated by our leaders and certain parts of our media?

We have to keep turning to Christ who shows us the way. We are reminded that the hated Samaritan turns out to be our neighbour, that in Christ there is no slave or freeman, no male or female, no black or white, no Jew or Gentile – perhaps no Christian or Muslim?  And as we look at the pictures of the Somme, perhaps we should also grieve more seriously for the people of Turkey who have been bombed more times in the last three years than either Brussels or Paris by the same enemy as bombed them.  Perhaps we need to think more clearly and truthfully.  We may not be guilty of hate crimes but we may be lazy in our thinking and mean in our compassion.  This is why I reproduce here a piece by an Irish American professor that came out this week after the bombing on Istanbul,

Once again, they strike. Against a Muslim country. And not just a Muslim country, but the most popular and beloved country by Muslims. And they strike in our holiest month, Ramadan. And not just the holiest month, but its last 10 holiest days.

What more proof does anyone need that ISIS/terrorism hate Muslims and Islam.

And YET we are consistently asked does ISIS/terrorism represent Islam and are asked to apologize for it, even as Muslims are consistently its biggest victims.

This is political, not religious. Political violence, not religious violence. That is, it is violence to serve narrow political interests, not violence ordered by religion – as the official story line is supposed to go. In fact, it hates Islam and Muslims, even as it cloaks itself in that name with the intent to fool only jumpy clueless observers in the West – because they know Muslims know better. And chumps like Trump who hate us too will soon be aiding and abetting their narrative against ours, because he is on their hate wavelength – not ours.

Dr Craig Constantine