At the end of December, a priest in a village in northern Italy pinned a notice to his church. Outrage and protests followed across the country. Women, suggested Father Piero Corsi, increasingly share the blame for domestic and sexual violence. They exacerbate household tensions with “children left to themselves, dirty houses, cold dishes, fast food and filthy clothes”. While he wrote that violence can never be excused, he linked it to the way women dress: “They provoke the worst instincts, which end in violence or sexual abuse. They should search their consciences and ask: did we bring this on ourselves?”
His ideas were condemned by everyone from the local mayor to the Vatican. The regional bishop advised the priest to take a rest from his duties. Corsi seemed genuinely taken aback by the strength of the reaction against him. And although some women’s rights groups urged him to resign, he merely issued a public apology before returning to work at his church in San Terenzo di Lerici, near La Spezia, in January, saying he had not meant to cause offence.
The UK’s National Interfaith Week, which included art exhibition Urban Dialogues, fell this year at a particularly poignant moment. With Gazans and Israelis 2000 miles away exchanging fire and living in fear of what one “side” might to do to the other, it was a sobering reminder of the importance of interfaith initiatives like this.
“We don’t want communities to go to their separate corners,” says Stephen Shashoua, director of the Three Faiths Forum (3FF) in London, which organized the event. “This is the time when people really need to come together, to ensure that these problems don’t spill out. We have created a shared space here.”
Fifteen years ago, a Muslim scholar, a Christian priest and a Jewish philanthropist came together in London to create Three Faiths Forum (3FF), a platform for community leaders to engage with one another and break down barriers. But today, some of the most valuable work the charity undertakes is in schools, ensuring that tensions between faith communities don’t trickle down to the next generation.
Often this will simply be making sure that children of different faiths have an opportunity to meet one another or addressing a lack of knowledge about other religions; occasionally more severe problems occur. “We’re contacted by RE teachers to help when there’s been anti-Jewish, -Muslim or -Christian sentiment,” says Debbie Danon, the charity’s education manager.
A Twickenham family whose six-year-old son suffers from cerebral palsy have launched a campaign to get him to America for vital surgery.
Kate and Gareth Maberley, who live in Railshead Road, need to raise £50,000 for their son Jonny to travel to St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri.
Jonny, who is in year 2 at Orelans Infant School, was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder which means all his limbs are affected by a tightening of the muscles that severely limits his movement. It also affects his speech.
The stage production of the multi-award winning film The King’s Speech will be coming to Richmond Theatre in the New Year. Jessica Abrahams speaks to writer David Seidler.
The script for the multi-award winning film The King’s Speech had its first reading in the quiet sitting room of a house in Richmond. Now, five years and many Oscars later, its 73-year-old writer David Seidler is returning to the borough for the stage production.
“My very good friend the theatre director Alan Cohen lives in Richmond,” Seidler tells me.
“The first proper reading of the script was in his living room so you could say it’s gone full-circle – it’s coming back to beautiful Richmond.”
Jessica Abrahams’s article ‘London’s old buses are driving Maltese round the bend’, which recently appeared in The Guardian, was a succinct, accurate look at the transport situation here in Malta, now that London’s discards and castaway bendy buses have suddenly turned up on our doorsteps – quite literally I’d say, especially in the limits of Marsascala.
Apart from making for an entertaining read, I found myself marvelling at how beautifully Abrahams managed to hone in and capture the essence of how completely wrong, ungainly and utterly alien these monstrous buses are to our “narrow streets, winding hills and medieval cities”, causing them to stick out like sore thumbs “with the grace of a rhino stuck in a Wendy house”.