Muslim Speaks Against Attacks on UK Christians

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A Muslim leader in the United Kingdom has come to the defense of Christians facing attacks in the country.

After a series of high profile cases of Christians facing persecution for expressing their beliefs in the work place, Muslim Imam Taj Hargey wrote in a national newspaper that virulent secularism is targeting believers.

"We do have an undercurrent of hostility towards religion and particularly to Christianity because Christianity is after all the major faith of this country," he said.

Hargey also highlighted the case of Nurse Shirley Chaplin, who works at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. She refused to remove a crucifix at work and has since lost her claim for discrimination after an employment tribunal ruled that she should have reached a compromise with her hospital employers.

Hargey says Chaplin's case shows the politically correct "busy-bodies" under the cover of health and safety have a "fanatical loathing of Christianity."

"I don't [think] the reason they gave was the really the issue of health and safety," he said. "The issue was to deny people the right to have their religious symbols."

The hospital argued that the objection to the crucifix, which she had worn for 30 years, was based on health and safety concerns about patients grabbing the necklace, not religion.

Nurse Chaplain is not allowed to comment while her case is still on appeal, but Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, spoke on her behalf. She says there have been considerations for Muslims but not Christians.

"Muslim staff are allowed to wear the hijab and also they're allowed to cover up the bottom part of their arm so exceptions are made for Muslims in the manifestation of their faith, but not for Shirley Chaplin to wear this small cross," Williams claimed.

She added that the legal center will continue to fight for Chaplin's right to wear the cross. The group is appealing Chaplin's case.

Last year CBN News reported the story of Christian nurse Caroline Petrie, who was suspended without pay for asking a patient is she would like to be prayed for.

She has since been reinstated and has returned to work, but the impact of this case has had a traumatic effect on her work life.

"There are ongoing problems with work for example reduction of hours, experiencing the cold shoulder from management, being pulled into the office over incidences that aren't the truth," Petrie said. "So since I've been reinstated it has been an ongoing pressure."

Hargey says incidents like these highlight the fact that Christianity is the traditional religion of Britain and should be protected.

"I would expect church leaders, whether it's the archbishop or bishops or lay ministers, to speak out more firmly about the fact that their faith and religion as a whole is being sidelined," Hargey said.

He even feels Muslims should respect the fact that Christianity is the historic faith of Britain and not try to institute Islamic laws.

"We should not be trying to impose our values system in this Christian heritage country," Hargey added. "I myself as an Imam of an Islamic congregation, we don't believe that Sharia law should come here."

Even as Muslim leaders like Hargey stand up for Christianity, Christians who express their faith in the workplace remain deeply concerned that political correctness will drive them out of their jobs.

* Originally aired April 30, 2010.

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Peter Wooding

Peter Wooding

CBN News United Kingdom Correspondent

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