Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Secularism’ Category

Batley Grammar: Teacher Suspended for Mohammed Lesson Can Return to School but Religious Censorship Imposed on Lessons.

with 3 comments

Batley Grammar and the triumph of the mob | The Spectator

Fears that Batley’s Blasphemy Law Will Spread in Education.

But now, the Batley Grammar School religious studies teacher has found unlikely support from a Bury branch of Unite, which largely represents binmen.

Brian Bamford, secretary of Tameside Trade Union Council, has submitted an emergency motion for the National Conference of Trade Union Councils in June to champion the cause of the suspended teacher.

The motion urges the NEU and all other unions to support the teacher and to publicly condemn those demanding his dismissal.

It notes that blasphemy laws were abolished more than a decade ago, and adds that “dogmatic restraints” should not be imposed on the religious education  curriculum.

Mr Bamford is also secretary of Bury Unite commercial branch in the North West, which represents binmen across the borough, and the motion’s wording had to be approved by the branch committee before being passed up to the Tameside TUC which it is affiliated to.

“This is a motion which has come in from bin men, from ordinary working people,” said Mr Bamford, a retired electrician who has been active in the trade union movement since the 1970s.

“As far as I can see, staying silent goes contrary to what we believe in at our branch, and especially in the trade congress.

“We are affiliated to the Orwell Society and freedom of expression is very important. I don’t feel guilty in any way for taking a stand on this issue.”

Mr Bamford claimed that an NEU official attempted to pressurise him into withdrawing the motion on the basis that it was “unhelpful” to draw further attention to the issue.

He said he was phoned by the official who asked him to “reconsider” the motion since it “risks inflaming what is an extremely sensitive and very complex situation” for members.

Despite this support this is what has happened:

School to no longer show Prophet Mohammed

Humanists UK says:

May 27th, 2021

Batley Grammar School will no longer use images of the Prophet Muhammed when teaching Religious Studies (RS). That was the conclusion announced today of the School’s investigation into controversy over such an image being used in a recent lesson. The School has said it will take this approach because ‘it is committed to ensuring that offence is not caused’. Humanists UK has expressed alarm at a blasphemy law now effectively being in place, and the chilling effect this is likely to have on other schools.

This incident occurred in a lesson on blasphemy. It led to Muslims protesting outside the school gates. The teacher in question was suspended. He has now been reinstated.

An independent investigation into the incident has now found:

‘Difficult issues such as blasphemy are included in the curriculum offer, as these are key aspects of the provision, and are important learning points for all our young people. The image in question was used on 22 March as part of the “controversial issues” topic in the RS scheme of work for Year 9.

‘It has been confirmed that the image was used on more than one previous occasion. The image had been selected to supplement the scheme of work and was not included in the formal scheme overview. The Trust fully recognises the level of concern this has caused.

The independent investigation has concluded and the Trust has accepted that the teaching staff who developed and delivered the lesson genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit, and that it was not used with the intention of causing offence. Nevertheless, the Trust recognises that using the image did cause deep offence to a number of students, parents and members of our school community. The Trust deeply regrets the distress this has caused. The Trust also considers that the topics covered by the lesson could have been effectively addressed in other ways and without using the image.…

‘The Trust considers that its lesson planning processes could have facilitated a more holistic approach to the selection of teaching aids, taking more careful account of relevant factors which would include: …the need to respect and understand all faiths and no faiths

‘In the light of the above, and in respect of the views of our school community the Trust is clear that it is not necessary for staff to use the material in question to deliver the learning outcomes on the subject of blasphemy; or any such images of the type used on 22 March for use in any Trust RS lessons, or any other lessons…

‘The Trust will not avoid addressing challenging subject matter in its classrooms but it is committed to ensuring that offence is not caused…’

In October a Muslim extremist murdered the French schoolteacher Samuel Paty after he used an image of Muhammad in a lesson on free speech in an open society.

A Humanists UK spokesperson commented:

‘Schools should be able to show depictions of Muhammad. If done sensitively, this can be an important part of Religious Education.

‘High-quality RE should not merely seek to “respect all faiths” or avoid “offence”. If that is all it does then it cannot hope to equip young people to understand and navigate contemporary debates around religion. Schools are public bodies, charged with the education of children. They must open their minds by promoting critical inquiry and personal, intellectual, and moral development. This means they must cover criticism of religions in ways religious groups won’t like. And in the case of Islam, this means debates around depictions of Muhammad. Pupils can understand such debates much more easily if they see what all the fuss is about themselves.

‘If schools shy away from this responsibility, and instead reintroduce a blasphemy law that was repealed 13 years ago, that would represent an educational failure.’

Written by Andrew Coates

May 27, 2021 at 6:03 pm

150 Years Ago the Paris Commune Adopted Secularism.

with one comment

Vive La Commune! Décret, datant du 3 avril 1871.

“150 years ago today, the Paris Commune decreed the separation of Church and State and established secularism as one of the fundamentals of the workers’ movement.”

The Paris Commune, Considering that the first of the principle of the French Republic is Liberty; Considering that freedom of conscience is the first of freedoms; Considering that the budget of the religious bodies is contrary to the principle, since it is an imposition on citizens against their own faith; Considering, in fact, that the clergy were complicit in the crimes of the monarchy against freedom,

Article I: The Church is separate from the State.

Article II: The religious budget is abolished.

Article III: The so-called mortmain property, belonging to religious congregations, movable and immovable, are declared national property.

Article IV: An investigation will be made immediately on these goods, to ascertain their nature and put them at the disposal of the nation.

From Lucien’s Blog:

“Our secularism, the permanent protest of a class on the move against all the forces that tend to paralyze it, really deserves to concentrate all the fury of the social conservatives. (…) Our secularism is however sure to win, because it expresses the instinctive tendency of a class towards its economic liberation. ” (Marceau Pivert, 1932)

“One day or another, the vast majority of the international proletariat will agree with Rosa Luxembourg to appreciate exactly the religious phenomenon and to adopt a tactic of proletarian anticlericalism in accordance with the demands of the class struggle”

(Marceau Pivert, 1937)

From Lucien.

Pour une laïcité prolétarienne

Solidarité avec les luttes sociales et féministes contre les cléricalismes, les intégrismes religieux, le capitalisme et le patriarcat rétrograde.

See also:

VAILLANT ET LA LAÏCITÉ

Written by Andrew Coates

April 3, 2021 at 11:55 am

Batley Grammar: Two More Members of Staff Suspended.

with 11 comments

Image

The Left and Labour Movement Should Defend Secular Freedom.

LBC:

Two more members of staff at Batley Grammar School have been suspended, it has been reported.

The school had apologised and suspended a teacher pending an investigation following a protest over the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad being shown in a class last week.

The picture had been used as part of a religious studies lesson, and the teacher involved has since been suspended and gone into hiding with his partner and four children.

It has since emerged two other teachers have also been suspended although this information was not made available to the public.

According to Mail Online, one ‘school source’ said: “Two other teachers are also being investigated but the school has been trying to keep it secret because they don’t want attention being drawn to the fact that this went beyond the actions of one person.”

It is understood they were aware the material was going to be used, but were not in class when it was shown.

LBC continues:

Batley Multi Academy Trust said in statement on Wednesday that an inquiry panel would begin work within a fortnight and said: “We understand everyone will want clarity as soon as possible.”

It said: “We’re grateful for the constructive engagement with all our stakeholders over the last few days with regard to Batley Grammar, one of the schools within our trust.

“We believe the right way forward is for an independent investigation to review the context in which the materials (which caused offence) were used, and to make recommendations in relation to the Religious Studies curriculum so that the appropriate lessons can be learned and action taken, where necessary.”

This Blog does not usually recommend the Weekly Worker, still less ‘Eddie Ford’, although it is well known that many of our section of left contributed to its pages in the past, but one of the best articles on the issues raised is in this week’s edition, (extracts)

Blasphemy laws old and new

Outraged, the local mosque mobilised its supporters, forcing the school to adopt remote learning. Mohammed Hussain of the Batley-based ‘Purpose of Life’ group – a registered charity – declared that the teacher “has insulted two billion Muslims on the planet” and “we cannot stand for that”, sharing the teacher’s name on social media with a letter condemning him. Taking it upon himself to speak for the entire ‘Muslim community’, as so often happens, he went on to state: “We do feel that, if this had been something that offended the LGBT community or something that was anti-Semitic, he would’ve been sacked on the spot.” For Hussain, the teacher’s resignation “should be forthcoming immediately.”

Similar sentiments can be heard from the protestors. One of them was quoted in various media outlets as saying the western world “is at a loss in understanding the reaction” from the Muslim community, as they are “required to stand up when prophet Mohammed is insulted, and when all the prophets are insulted, including all the prophets of the Old Testament, including Jesus” – the British “Muslim community” everywhere needs to review the materials being taught in their children’s schools. Showing images of Mohammed, we are told, should be as unacceptable as using the word ‘nigger’. Just beyond the pale.

This begins with something on everybody’s mind.

The very first thing to say is that this is an extremely serious matter. In October last year Samuel Paty, a school teacher in Paris, was horrifically beheaded after he too showed Charlie Hebdo cartoons during a class about free expression. In that sense, very similar to Batley. It is widely reported that the teacher there, who loved his “fantastic job”, is now in fear for his life – as are his family. He was whisked away from his home on “police advice” after receiving constant death threats. He is unlikely to return to Batley, let alone his job.

Secondly, we should support the immediate reinstatement of the suspended teacher – the lesson was precisely designed, presumably, to elicit critical thinking and philosophical inquiry. In which case, why not show the cartoon? Teachers should be free to show cartoons, pictures or quote texts that are relevant to the subject. After all, how can you conduct a lesson on blasphemy otherwise? Thirdly, Kibble was totally wrong to make his wretched apology – it will only encourage a climate of censorship.

There are wider issues, as religious figures push for the banning of views they dislike.

Many of those protesting outside Batley grammar school, and beyond, want the UK to resurrect its blasphemy laws. The common-law offences of “blasphemy” and “blasphemous libel” were formally abolished in England and Wales in 2008 after an amendment was passed to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.1 

And in Scotland the blasphemy law was only formally abolished this month after the new Hate Crime Bill passed its final parliamentary vote. There is now a new offence of “stirring up hatred” on religious grounds, meaning that Scots could be subject to prosecution if their behaviour is deemed “threatening or abusive”.2 As a consequence, the threshold for prosecution for “stirring up hatred” on religious grounds remains lower than in England and Wales – inevitably having a chilling effect on freedom of expression north of the border. This only leaves Northern Ireland, where blasphemy continues to be an offence under the common law, despite an attempt in the House of Lords to abolish it in 2009.

”””

This Blog covered the SWP line. This is a excellent answer.

According to the SWP, there is “a big difference between ridiculing a religion such as the establishment-backed Church of England and mocking the beliefs of the poor and oppressed” – apparently Islam is above analytical criticism, sceptical questioning, let alone biting humour, and can never be the belief of the rich and powerful. Ignorance in the extreme. Religions are almost always cross-class phenomena. The Church of England unites Elizabeth Windsor and Justin Welby with the worthy poor who huddle in church every Sunday. Roman Catholicism is the religion of Francis I, a bloatedly rich bureaucracy, and huge numbers throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa. The same with Islam. Sunni Islam unites the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the fabulously rich king of Saudi Arabia, with millions throughout the world. The same goes for Shia Islam, the Mormons and Judaism. Vicars, priests, imams and rabbis form a privileged middle class with a material interest in maintaining their hold over their congregations and fuelling hostility to secularism and anything that smacks of criticism.

There are countries with state churches, like England. But more widely it is not just the wealth of the pious religious bourgeoisie behind institutions of faith, right to their most extreme forms. Political Islamism enjoys the financial and political support of capitalist dictatorships, from Saudi Arabia to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The conclusion is absolutely spot on.

We do not want to unnecessarily offend religious people like modern-day zealots from the League of Militant Godless.5 Rather, we want to be freely able to use Marxism to investigate the truths and untruths of religion. Religion is profoundly human – bearing all the characteristics and contradictions of class society. In that sense, as Marx argued, religion is an encyclopaedia of humanity’s complex history.

Lest we forget, this is what actually existing Blasphemy laws are like,

Junaid Hafeez, a university lecturer in Pakistan, had been imprisoned for six years when he was sentenced to death in December 2019. The charge: blasphemy, specifically insulting Prophet Muhammad (P.B.H.) on Facebook.

Pakistan has the world’s second strictest blasphemy laws after Iran, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Hafeez, whose death sentence is under appeal, is one of about 1,500 Pakistanis charged with blasphemy, or sacrilegious speech, over the last three decades. No executions have taken place.

But since 1990 70 people have been murdered by mobs and vigilantes who accused them of insulting Islam. Several people who defend the accused have been killed, too, including one of Hafeez’s lawyers and two high-level politicians who publicly opposed the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted for verbally insulting Prophet Muhammad. Though Bibi was acquitted in 2019, she fled Pakistan.

Opinion: Is Pakistan’s blasphemy law a result of the ulema-state alliance?

Written by Andrew Coates

April 2, 2021 at 11:33 am