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Saying something nice for Easter

01 April 2016

Wrong sort of Muslim? The killing of Asad Shah reported in the Daily Mail on Saturday

Wrong sort of Muslim? The killing of Asad Shah reported in the Daily Mail on Saturday

AFTER last week’s unimproving story of the “crystal Methodist”, here is one where the direction of travel is reversed, from the Daily Mail.

The story headed “Miss BumBum model who nearly died after her bottom fillers ‘rotted’ has ‘found God’” is about Andressa Urach, a former lingerie model whose life was full of sin and footballers until she fell into a coma when her implants became infected.

After some kind of near-death experience, she converted to Pentecostal Christianity, and threw away, the paper says, six wardrobes of raunchy clothes, and removed all the saucy snaps from her social-network accounts.

The Mail Online is a conscientious website, however, and to make sure that the readers can appreciate just how much her life has changed, it reproduces a great many pictures from her unregenerate days. In one, she is wearing high heels, rather sinfully for a Pentecostal pastor; but in most she is wearing a few clothes as well.

She is now part of an evangelistic team that is touring prisons and exorcising the inmates after they hear her testimony. She hopes, she says, to become a missionary in Africa. “My TV work is just to pay the bills, but that’s not where my heart is.”

 

EASTER is the time, above all, when the broadsheet papers try to say something nice about Christianity. The Guardian ran a leader about the sufferings of Christians in the Middle East, and The Times ran two. The first was a fairly straightforward piece of piety, clearly marked by arguments among the leader-writers over the truth of the story: “Even in an age of doubt, where awe before religious mystery is unfashionable, the proper response to the narrative of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is humility and respect for the faithful.

“Jesus’s followers were convinced not that he appeared to them in a vision after his death but that he conquered suffering and death. This is not, in Christian doctrine, an allegory but a historical conviction. It has no counterpart in the beliefs of the ancient world. Much influenced by the Cynics, the rhetorician Lucian — writing in the 2nd century AD — depicted human culture as an illusion. Death, he reasoned, is our true role in the natural world.

“The Christian message is at once more hopeful than this but also a constant challenge.”

The second was less coherent, since it concentrated on what might be done for the suffering Christians abroad. As there is actually nothing that our Government can do, it ended with a piece of dazzling self-contradiction: “There can be no accelerated acceptance of Christian refugees in the West based solely on their faith. . . Faith is not a passport.

“Christians from the Middle East do, however, have a moral and legal claim to western asylum based on the recent rulings that the wholesale destruction of their communities now amounts to nothing less than genocide. . . Yazidis, Zoroastrians, Mandaeans, and other ancient sects in Iraq and its hinterland have also fallen prey to Isis butchers. They too should be offered a haven from genocide.”

This leader is missing two words after “genocide”: perhaps “in Germany”, or at any rate “somewhere else”.

 

THE Telegraph had a very curious leader — more like a sermon than anything that would normally appear in that slot. “Like those on earth among whom he lived, Jesus is still wounded. Who isn’t — we don’t dwell on it — but who isn’t? Yet that does not stop us, like generations before, reaching out again to rebuild towns and livelihoods and families, with implicit belief in goodness, love and life.”

 

AS FOR the reporting of Islam, this is slowly getting better, but the horrible murder of an Ahmadi shopkeeper in Glasgow demonstrated how far there is to go. Broadly speaking, one can distinguish between two sorts of Muslims who kill infidels: those who are too lax, and those who are too rigid.

The laxity was demonstrated by the Brussels jihadi gang, who appear to have been petty criminals of the same sort as those who carried out the train bombing in Madrid in 2004.

The rigidity has been suggested as a motive for the murder of Asad Shah, in Glasgow. What was shocking about the coverage was that it took several days for the central fact about the victim to emerge: he was an Ahmadiyya, which means that most Pakistanis, and most of their descendants here, would not consider him a Muslim at all, any more than we think of Mormons as Christians.

Where this story belongs is in the same pigeonhole as the demonstrations in support of the murderer Mumtaz Qadri. It will be interesting to see how this crime plays out in the mosques that praised Qadri.

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