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In the Press

  • The government has "skewed" religious studies teaching in England by excluding non-religious beliefs from the new GCSE, the High Court has heard.
    Three families were seeking judicial review of the government's decision to give priority to religious views in the new course, due to be taught from 2016.
    But government lawyers argued equal consideration for religious and non-religious views is not required by law.
  • Pupils at Oldknow Academy, a school implicated in the Trojan horse scandal, were led in anti-Christian chants in assemblies, it has been alleged.
    Teacher Asif Khan allegedly led pupils shouting: “We don’t believe in Christmas, do we?” and “Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, was he?”, a tribunal was told.
  • A pregnant police officer from the United Kingdom has rejected doctors' suggestions for her to abort her unborn child for her to be able to get rigorous cancer treatment.
    Last September, 32-year-old Heidi Loughlin was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer—a rare and aggressive kind of the disease. She was told by her doctor that she only had a maximum of five years to live.
    At that time, the female police officer was three months' pregnant. She has two other children: two-year-old Noah and one-year-old Tait.
    For her to get cancer treatment, doctors gave Heidi the option of terminating her pregnancy so she could undergo an intense type of chemotherapy.
    But the soon-to-be mother of three could not bear the thought of losing her unborn child. Because of this, she chose to keep her baby and begin a less aggressive form of chemotherapy.
  • Government plans to relax Sunday trading laws in England and Wales are facing defeat in the House of Commons.
    The SNP has told the BBC and the Guardian the party has decided to vote against the changes amid fears it could drive down Scottish workers' wages.
    With other opposition MPs expected to join forces with some 20 Tory rebels, the plans will struggle to pass.
    Ministers are said to be considering whether the proposals might have to be delayed or even dropped.
  • The boss of Apple has warned Theresa May against giving spies a “back door” into people’s emails, because weakening data security could ultimately help criminals.
    Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said that any attempt to weaken encryption could have “very dire consequences” for consumers by making their data less secure.
    Under the so-called snooper’s charter, the Investigatory Powers Bill, communications companies would be legally required to help spies gain access to suspects’ smartphones and computers, while domestic providers would be obliged to assist intelligence agencies when they are given warrants to interfere with equipment.
  • Muslim voters in Birmingham were told they would go to hell if they didn’t vote Labour, a court has heard.
    The claim came in an Election Court challenge to Labour councillor for Washwood Heath, Ansar Ali Khan, whose legal team said he had done nothing wrong.
    Councillor Khan was re-elected on May 7 with a thumping 7,802 majority – the largest in Birmingham.
    The case surrounded a Facebook photo and message published on April 15 in which it suggests all followers of Barelvi Sufi tradition of Islam should vote Labour.
    It showed leader of the Victoria Road Mosque in Aston Pir Siddiqui with eight Labour politicians, including Ansar Ali Khan, and the statement: “All Pir, Sahiban and Darbars in Birmingham have ordered Mureeds to vote Labour in elections.”
    It suggests religious leaders have urged followers to vote Labour.
  • Professor Robert Oscar Lopez says he always suspected the day would come when his employer, the University of California, Northridge, would move to oust him from his tenured position teaching English literature.
    Lopez became quite famous a few years ago after he “outed” himself as both bi-sexual and having been raised by lesbians. Writing in the academic online journal The Public Discourse three years ago, Lopez wrote his upbringing by two lesbians had been harmful to him and that he now opposed same-sex marriage. Despite appearing on a relatively small site, Lopez’s explosive essay has more than 9,000 Facebook shares.
    Lopez was a marked man from that moment. Lopez became an even more outspoken opponent of gay marriage, gay adoption and gay surrogacy. He founded a movement for children’s rights, filed an amicus brief in favor of man-woman marriage with the Supreme Court, and published a book about attacks on him and his colleagues by the Big Gay Hate Machine.
    He now charges that some of the groups after him, including the gay Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and others, likely sent students into his classes to gin up charges against him so that he would be harassed into silence and eventually dismissed. Whether that’s true or not, at least one student did begin to monitor Lopez and she did begin filing charges against him sometime in 2014.

    The charges against Lopez shifted almost constantly and to this day he has never been shown the formal complaint from the still-unidentified former student. His understanding of the charges against him have been from meetings with university administrators and taking notes.
  • Schools Week is reporting that the number of referrals made by the education sector to the government’s anti-radicalisation scheme, Channel, has dramatically increased from 20 in 2012/13 to 424 last year.
    However, experts are warning that an ‘uncomprehensive’ roll-out of training means teachers lack an understanding of when pupils should be referred. Since July, teaching staff have been legally bound to ‘take steps to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. 
    Zafar Ali, chairman of governors at IQRA Slough Islamic Primary School, in Berkshire, said: “There is little training given to teachers about what forms of radicalisation there are, and what the signs are. So you are getting this knee-jerk reaction because schools are so scared that if they don’t make a referral, they will be found wanting.”
    Ali is responsible for providing radicalisation safeguarding training in schools. He said: “The lack of knowledge and understanding of radicalisation [in schools] is . . . stifling freedom of speech to dangerous levels now.”
    The Channel programme was activated in 2012, in a bid to provide early support for people identified as being vulnerable to radicalisation. Once referred, referrals are assessed by a board of Channel officers who decide if specialist intervention support, such as de-radicalisation sessions are necessary. 
  • The German Bundestag approved assisted suicide for altruistic reasons in a similar manner as the Swiss law except that they banned the commercialization of assisted suicide.
    The fact is that the Swiss law permits assisted suicide for altruistic reasons, but the groups that facilitate assisted suicide actually developed over time, rather than the law simply permitting it. Therefore now that Germany officially permits assisted suicide, the question is how will it develop over time. The German RT news reported:
    "MPs in Germany have rejected a bill that would have made commercial assisted suicides legal, instead passing a new law punishing such practices with up to three years imprisonment, even if doctors perform the procedure to relieve suffering.
    "The bill, which was upheld with 360 out of 602 votes, criminalizes organizations that assist patients in terminating their own lives for profit. It is meant to prevent the commercialization of the procedure as a “suicide business.”
    "However, single instances of suicide assistance – by a doctor or relative – do not contradict the new law."
  • The Roman Catholic Church is at the centre of a row after ordering its schools to teach Judaism alongside Christianity in GCSE religious studies – ruling out Islam or other faiths.
    The edict was described as ‘very disappointing’ by senior Muslim leaders. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, former secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the decision undermined Pope Francis’s message of greater tolerance between the faiths, and urged Catholic leader Cardinal Vincent Nichols to think again.
    The Church’s move follows last year’s reforms to the GCSE exam. Under the new rules, schools are required to teach two religions rather than one.


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