Friday, 2 August 2013

In Praise of Mandela. By Rev Jesse Jackson

Speech at the UN
And even now as Mr. Mandela enters into what might well be the evening of his years with the sun soon setting just beyond the reach of his most loftiest achievements, he is again summoning the attention of the world as he beckons us to be mindful of the fragility of life
For let us never forget that it is because of the life and personal sacrifice of Mr. Mandela that South Africa is a different nation today.
The dark night of Apartheid and racial disparity did not come to an end on its own—for those of us who have dedicated our lives to the possibility of freedom and equality understand with amazing clarity that social transformation is an intentional act.
The south Africa we celebrate today is result of the deliberate struggle of millions people both on the continent and around the world who somehow believed that midnight could not last forever—and so we fought.
Sometimes with tears in ours eyes but we kept on fighting.
We lost a few friends along the way—but we kept on fighting.
And there were times when we had to take up our struggle against the better judgment of the so-called civilized world—but James Russell Lowell was right:
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne, Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own."
Mr. Mandela’s 27 years in prison is reminder to all of us that sometimes you have to be willing to toil in a tight place to create open space for democracy to flourish and grow.
We here must highly resolve that Nelson Mandela did not henceforth labor in vain.
And even now as we celebrate the event of his birth we must do more than give mere commendation to his struggle
That kind of empty commemoration is too small for Mr. Mandela—for if we are to truly celebrate the man in whose name we have dared to gather then the aim this celebration must be as big as he continues to be
And how do you celebrate a man called to fight for truth in a world build upon many lies? The answer in simple - by taking our place among that great cloud of witnesses so that we like them might push our shoulders against the great wheel of history until one world dies and another world is born
For let us never forget that before he was a President, Nelson Mandela was a freedom fighter
And today we cherish his struggle and take our peace from the solemn pride that must be his to have laid such a costly sacrifice upon the altars of freedom and love
Today we honor the courage of Mr. Mandela as he is for us a constant reminder that truth crushed down to earth will invariably rise again.
Mr. Mandela is our living response to all the cynics who seek to convince us that the world will forever be as it is now
In closing, let me simply say that that the world will little note nor long remember what we say here today—but it will never forget the living witness of Nelson Mandela.
He is a giant among men.
We don’t know how long he will able to labor among us—but Shakesphere said it best
And when he shall die, take him and cut him into little stars, And he make the face of heaven so fine That all the world will fall in love with night And pay no worship to the garish sun."
Rev Jesse Jackson

Far Right Terrorism barely makes the news

The fact that two Ukrainian men have been arrested for a failed terrorist attack on a Mosque in Small Heath, Birmingham, and that one of men has now been arrested for the racist murder of Mohammed Saleem has barely made the headlines. Worse still, the silence from many senior politicians has been deafening.
Mr. Mohammed Saleem, 75 year old grandfather and a respected man in his community was stabbed three times as he returned from evening prayers three months ago. A link between the murder and the bomb blast has now been made when police realized that the bomb attack was only one and half miles away from Saleem’s home.
Truth is that the Saleem’s murder, the Small Heath Mosque and three serious Mosque attacks in the last three months has barely resonated beyond the communities affected precisely because media outlets and politicians have said little or nothing on the issue.
Some critics are now saying that the life of a British Muslim is not seen as the same value as a white man. Writing in the today’s Guardian Nesrine Malik wrote:
When Lee Rigby was murdered, politicians of every stripe scrambled to condemn and reassure. Cobra, the country's top emergency response mechanism, was convened under the home secretary, Theresa May. David Cameron reassured Britons that "we will never buckle in the face of terrorism". Compare this with near-silence that greeted the recent mosque attacks. Muslims have become accustomed, almost resigned, to media double standards – there is no example starker than the wildly different coverage of Rigby and Saleem's killings. But the failure to mobilise, condemn and reassure on the part of the political class is potentially far more dangerous.
It suggests not only that a Muslim life is less sacred than a non-Muslim one, but that Muslims do not have the same rights as others to be reassured."
Whilst the murders of Lee Rigsby and Mohammed Saleem are different in many ways, in particularly the grotesque reveling in the atrocity by the two Woolwich murderers, but as Malik points out they are both acts of terrorism; religiously, ideologically and racially motivated attacks. The double standard therefore, which seeks to highlight every facet of one, including some who will demonise a religion and community for the act of one, and on the other side pay scant regards to Far Right terror and race hatred which only this weekend was permitted to march through the streets of Birmingham close to where Saleem was slain.
If Muslims are to have confidence both in the police and our politicians that terrorism whoever the perpetrators will be dealt with, then we must see a greater balance in actions as well as words from all concerned.
Simon Woolley