Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Ruoff: No more mosques

Updated Wednesday afternoon

Several newspapers report the remarks of a General Synod member for London diocese, Alison Ruoff.
The Church Times has a recent picture of her, available here.

The Times Ruth GledhillNo more mosques’ says Synod member and Church of England Synod member’s call to ban the building of any new mosques

Daily Telegraph Jonathan Petre No more mosques, says senior Synod member

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Church leader calls for building of mosques to be banned because of risk ‘Britain will become an ‘Islamic state’

Daily Express Tom Whitehead ‘STOP BUILDING MOSQUES IN UK’

Sun Christian’s call to ban mosques

Only the Telegraph has comments from official church spokespersons:

The former magistrate, who was one of the strongest critics of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech on Islamic law earlier this year, added that sharia would be introduced into Britain “if we don’t watch out”.

Apart from being a Synod member, Mrs Ruoff, a conservative evangelical, also sits on the Bishop’s Council, which advises the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres.

Although her views are representative of a small minority on the Synod, and Church spokesmen moved quickly to isolate her yesterday, they may exacerbate tensions over the place of Muslims in society.

A spokesman for the Diocese of London said: “Mrs Ruoff’s comments are her own and do not reflect the views of the Diocese of London, which enjoys excellent inter-faith relations across the capital.”

A Church of England spokesman added: “These are her personal comments, speaking as an individual.” But senior Muslims had already reacted angrily to her comments, saying they were more typical of a member of the British National Party than the Anglican Church.

Mrs Ruoff, speaking in an interview with Premier Radio, the Christian radio station, said: “No more mosques in the UK. We are constantly building new mosques, which are paid for by the money that comes from oil states.

“We have only in this country, as far as we know, 3.5 to four million Muslims. There are enough mosques for Muslims in this country, they don’t need any more.

“We don’t need to have sharia law which would come with more mosques imposed upon our nation, if we don’t watch out, that would happen. If we want to become an Islamic state, this is the way to go.

“You build a mosque and then what happens?

“You have Muslim people moving into that area, all the shops will then become Islamic, all the housing will then become Islamic and as the Bishop of Rochester has so wisely pointed out, that will be a no go area for anyone else.

“They will bring in Islamic law. We cannot allow that to happen.”

Wednesday afternoon update

Inayat Bunglawala No more mosques?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 11:22am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Inspires great confidence i both The Council and the GS.

She would also like to see the back of the communities of gay and lesbian people.

Live and let live must be far too simple --let alone the golden rule.

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 1:27pm BST

The anti-Islamic hysteria fanned by mostly over 50 year old white guys is disgusting. You'd think they made up 49% of the population and about to tip into majority by the press accounts. I live in a majority Muslim neighbourhood in Quebec and they are diverse-minded people just like the rest of us are. Several know I am gay and don't have a problem with it at all. The UK, Dutch and Canadian old guard need to channel the anxiety they feel about social change into something else and just shut up.

Posted by: dantoujours on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 1:53pm BST

It is very human to feel that one's way of life is threatened by newcomers whose customs are vastly different. We should understand that this is driving Ms. Ruoff's words and actions. It would be a lie to say that I do not hold suspicions of Islam.

Getting to know people who were LGBT dispelled or weakened most of my fears about the LGBT community. I hope Ms. Ruoff will reflect on her words, and perhaps get to know some real Muslims, face to face. Ms. Ruoff should remember that Jesus talked to the despised populations of his day, and He died to draw all to himself - all.

Posted by: Weiwen on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 2:31pm BST

Ms Rouff is obviously aware that many of the mosques in Britain are funded by Saudi and promote an extreme version of Islam. Bearing that in mind, I think we would be wise to put restrictions on mosques here eg. refusing planning permission unless the mosque guarantees to promote tolerance.
I am far more in agreement with Ms Rouff than the morally weak Archbishop who couldn't defend Christianity to save his life. No doubt Ms Rouff will receive death threats. There is no danger of the Archbishop being threatened as long as he continues to promote Islam. To the other posters here: Fundamentalist Islamic imams preach about throwing lesbians and gays off cliffs!

Posted by: E. Reynolds on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 6:03pm BST

E Reynolds:

But most Muslims aren't fundamentalists and most mosques don't preach fundamentalism.

Most Muslims don't even go to Mosques. But if you pull this kind of stuff on them they are going to believe the deck is stacked against them which can only lead to more problems later.

Good grief. It's like arguing against allowing churches to be built because some have ties to the KKK.

Posted by: toujoursdan on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 6:40pm BST

This is not a particularly interesting piece of news: conservative evangelical lay members who share Ms Ruoff's views are widespread. Her strident voice is next to insignificant in Synod, but the media love to pounce on anything that ratchets up tension between Christianity and Islam.

It would be a tragedy if we allow the religious agenda be dominated by fanatics such as Ruoff, a hardline Reform member/Akinola apologist, and Bunglawala, whose sympathies for islamist organisations such as Hizb-ut-Tahir and Hamas are well documented. Ruoff's crude beliefs do no service to those who have well-justified concerns about the political and social agenda of various Islamic sects.

There are good grounds for having a tougher approach to the building of houses of worship in the UK, but most seem to have passed Ruoff by. It is entirely appropriate that any sect that wishes to build a place of worship, particularly one of mega-cathedral proportions, should be vetted. The Finsbury Park fiasco proved that places of worship must not fall under the control of religious extremists, and in addition they ought be of an appropriate size for the local community.

Furthermore, there is a strong case for a policy of reciprocity, as has been increasingly recognised by the Catholic Church. This is especially so in relation to a number of Arab states who still impose a ban on non-muslim places of worship. If these states wish to fund mosque building in the UK (remembering that there are many mosques not funded by these regimes), many Christians believe it their duty to ensure that a reciprocal agreement is reached that allows for churches to be built in their lands.

Posted by: John Omani on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 6:43pm BST

From what is presented in the media, Ms Ruoff is a hatemonger and a bigot. Such grievous sin, to my mind, should move the Bishop of London to initiate an investigation leading to her excommunication if she does not repent of this abominable and unChristian behaviour.

Now, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and there are issues related to foreign funding of mosques in western countries. In many cases, the "donations" come with conditions that only Wahhabist imams be hired.

A sane responce would be to place restrictions of the foreign funding of religious activities and buildings.

Ms Ruoff's call for a complete ban on mosque-building - besides being pure bigotry - is simply stupid.

I wonder if this idiot realizes that she will now be featured in extremist recruitment campaigns across the UK.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 7:03pm BST

Conservative evangelicals like Ms Ruoff really have to make up their minds.

Do they stand for religious freedom - in which case it extends to everyone, and not just to them.

Or do they stand for discrimination against religions on the basis of what is "right", in which case they may find their own opt-outs from legislation outlawing discrimination against women, homosexuals and others falling to the same argument.

Flossie's link to the Christian Institute's scoresheet for Evan Harris MP, excoriated as a leading representative of "the secularist worldview" on another thread, showed that, whilst he disagrees with almost everything they stand for, he does agree that they should be allowed freedom to preach religious hatred.

The conservatives don't seem to understand the liberal logic from which they benefit.

Flossie's link was http://www.christian.org.uk/mpvotes.php?selection=&value1=442&submit1=SHOW&value2=1

Posted by: badman on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 7:28pm BST

Perhaps we should ban church-planting too?

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 8:20pm BST

Ms. Ruoff's statement would be comic if it were not so hateful. Who is this 'we' that builds mosques?

Sounds like if 'we' built a mosque in a place where no Muslims lived, 'we' would attract them, sort of like ants to an ant trap. But 'we' aren't building them, are 'we?'

No - it is the Muslim communities who are building them.

Perhaps Ms. Ruoff could build a church to attract Christians ...

And I do understand that some mosques and some schools associated with them have been implicated in hostile teaching and activity, but 'we' didn't build them, did 'we?'

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 8:55pm BST

Tourjoursdan:
I didn't suggest that we should ban mosques. I said that planning permission should only be granted when the mosque can agree to preaching
tolerance. A quarter of mosques in Britain are known to be promoting extremism. That is a huge problem. Christians in Britain are generally unaware of the persecution suffered by Christians around the world, especially in Islamic countries. If we cared more about that, we would not be so blase about the growing numbers of mosques in the UK. Yes, Ms Ruoff was too extreme, but at least she understands the threat. And Hugh of Lincoln: If you can find a church in Britain that encourages suicide bombing and promotes the murder of Jews and "infidels", then I think we should discourage it, yes.

Posted by: E. Reynolds on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 9:51am BST

"And I do understand that some mosques and some schools associated with them have been implicated in hostile teaching and activity, but 'we' didn't build them, did 'we?'"

No, "we" don't have to worry about building "them". Christians been quite successful in nurturing some churches and some colleges that have been implicated in hostile teaching and activity in their own right, with no Muslim within coo-ee to blame for such developments.

I just don't understand why Jesus sent a message of gentleness to the Daughter of Zion (Matthew 21:5 or John 12:15). His disciples have certainly been far from gentle to the Daughter of Zion, or women, or eunuchs, let alone gentiles.

So much for that light of salvation that was meant to extend beyond the Jews (Isaiah 49:6) [ Christians have apparently tried to become the "new" Jews] or the everlasting covenant of peace (Isaiah 55:3, Jeremiah 50:5 or Ezekiel 37:26)

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 10:57am BST

"Fundamentalist Islamic imams preach about throwing lesbians and gays off cliffs!"

Fundamentalist Christians don't do any better, ought we to ban them from opening churches too? Even within the Anglican Church there are those preaching hatred against gay people, ought we to ban Anglicans who won't promise to stop?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 1:13pm BST

The Torygraph:

"No more mosques, says senior Synod member"
and
"A senior lay member of the Church of England's "Parliament" ..."

Ms Ruoff may be a long serving member of General Synod but that doesn't make her any more senior than any other member. Neither does it make her views representative of the GS.

Posted by: RPNewark on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 2:08pm BST

If the Muslim Council of Britain seems shocked at Mrs Ruoff's opinion, they should ask themselves why it is nigh-on impossible for Christians officially to restore old churches let alone build new churches in one of the most progressive democratic Muslim countries in the world - Turkey!

Posted by: Canon Ian Sherwood on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 3:40pm BST

E Reynolds: "I said that planning permission should only be granted when the mosque can agree to preaching tolerance."

What is to be preached is outside the remit of the planning laws. If a local authority refused planning permission on the grounds that the applicants declined to give an undertaking to preach tolerance, they could be taken to appeal and would win. The costs of the appeal would be borne by the local authority's taxpayers.

Posted by: RPNewark on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 4:13pm BST

Planning permission is one piece - but surely that is already required.

And planning permission does not - nor should it - touch on the issue of what is said inside the building.

However, there is a strong correlation between mosques preaching extremism and mosques established with substantial offshore funding which was conditional on the appointment of an extremist Wahhabi imam.

Perhaps a more effective means of dealing with this problem is by placing restrictions on offshore donations to charities. Banning them probably isn't the answer (after all, we had no issue with Brits donating to the extension of the Church outwith the UK). But establishing a regulation that a) restricts the proportion of income which can be derived from offshore sources or b) requiring that any and all offshore donations be free of conditions is a practical and appropriate response.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 10:15pm BST

Canon Sherwood,
I work with Christians from Muslim countries, and have heard their stories. But, does infringement of Christian religious freedom in Muslim countries justify the infringement of the religious rights of Muslim in nominally Christian countries that hold as a basic belief the idea that people should be free to worship, or not, according to the dictates of their conscience? Do we persecute Muslims in Britain or North America because Christians are persecuted in Muslim countries? Surely we Christians are called to let our light shine, not to pattern our behaviour after that of non-Christians.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 4 April 2008 at 6:40pm BST

It is amazing to read dreamt up figures, such as three quarter of all Mosques in the UK preach extremisim. Please state the source from which such figures come. Until Islam is understood, the fear of the unknown will always lead certain people to make untrue statements. I travel the UK and haved interacted with Local Muslims and prayed in many Mosques. The fact is that only at the gate of one Mosque did I find extremist literature being attemted to be handed out. Most Muslims were not taking the leaflets. This had noting to to with the Mosque or its management and was soon stoped. We Muslims are told in the Quran that the closest to us in Love are the Christians. Muslim men are permitted to marry Christain women. Mohammad had married a Christian woman. Lets talk the language of fact not fear. If we had more Mosques with more attendance then the level of Islamic education, which is based on mercy tolerance and respect for all humans would reach a wider audiance. I would like to ask people such as Ms Ruoff to enage on a visit of as many UK Mosques as possible to discover what is happening and what is likely to happen. Islamic law is not about to be forced upon the UK, on the contary, Islam teachs as a fundamental principle that there is no compulsion in religion.
We Muslims believe in Jesus, in the immaculate conception, and that Jesus will return to lead people submitting to God's Will at the end of time.
The peace and blessings of All mighty God be upon all of you. AM

Posted by: Peter on Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 9:33pm BST
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