This one has been on the way for some time. Last week the new Ordinance on Religious Affairs was published, which is to take effect on 1 February 2018. To publicise the new rules, we find Yu Zhengsheng, a senior political advisor, making the following points:

Conflicts and disputes involving ethnic and religious factors should be dealt with in accordance with the law concerned to safeguard social harmony and stability.

We must resolutely resist overseas infiltration via religious means and prevent missionary activities in educational institutions.

Apart from promoting traditional Chinese culture and national unity, Yu also stressed that “socialist core values should guide and educate religious figures and their followers.” I love that one.

But what is the background to these new ordinances? The Institute for World Religion Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has been engaged in research for some time (I have played a modest part in the process). So we find Liu Guopeng, from the institute, observing that Protestant groups have been growing and – due to conservative tendencies among some – have been condemning Buddhism, Taoism and Islam. And external influences have radicalised some elements among the Xinjiang Uyghur and Ningxia Hui nationalities.

The key in these cases is that all religions should stick to independence and self-governance and not be controlled by any foreign entity – whether Christian, Muslim or indeed Buddhist. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), set up with the work of the Chinese Christian communist, Yu Yaozong, and Zhou Enlai, is perhaps the best example of this, which is one of the largest Protestant organisations in the world.




I am looking for high quality PhD candidates who wish to study Muslim Marxism.

Two such Marxists immediately come to mind: Tan Malaka (short for Ibrahim Gelar Datuk Sutan Malaka), one of the heroes of Indonesian independence; and Hussein Mroué from Lebanon, author of the incomplete three-volume Materialist Tendencies in Islamic Philosophy. Part of the project would involve translating the key texts into English, which will be published. Successful applicants will become part of the Religion and Radicalism research network at the University of Newcastle.

Information about University of Newcastle international scholarships: these are extremely competitive and anyone who wishes to apply must have an outstanding track record. This involves:

1. A GPA of 5.2 (out of 7) minimum. Closer to 6 is better. All study undertaken is included in calculating the GPA, from undergraduate onwards.

2. A completed research masters degree with the highest level mark (thesis must be 75% of the degree). This applies if it is some time since you completed undergraduate work.

3. A couple of peer-reviewed publications.

Applications are due in August.

Please circulate. If you are interested, contact me by email or leave a comment.

In his nervous effort to reassert the glorious myth of the classical heritage of ancient Greece and Rome, George Kennedy writes:

Islam was not only the greatest danger to Christianity in the Middle Ages, but also the greatest threat to the classical tradition of Europe, for its acknowledged no significant debt to the classical world, rejected its art, and neglected its languages and culture in favor of a new, all-sufficing revelation. The exception to this, of course, is the Arabic transmission of some knowledge of Greek philosophy, primarily the Aristotelian corpus. But a glance into Hermannus Alemannus’s thirteenth-century Latin translation of Averroes’s twelfth-century paraphrase of a tenth-century Arabic translation of a seventh-century Syriac translation of Aristotle’s Poetics is enough to reveal how impoverished the classical tradition would have been if Islam had prevailed in Europe. Averroes lacked even the slightest knowledge of Greek epic or tragedy, and his attempts to make sense of Aristotle on the basis of forms of Arabic poetry is totally obfuscating. (George Kennedy, International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 1.1 1994).

You can sense the sigh of relief as he wrote that piece of tripe.

Has anyone else noticed a curious confluence of Breivik’s proposals regarding the church and those espoused by the current conservative holder of the see of Rome and certain proponents of radical orthodoxy? They share: an anti-Islamic perspective, a critique of liberalism and Marxism, an argument for the vital role of liturgy, the proposal that the Roman Catholic church functions as a line of defence against Islam and modernity, and – crucially – the suggestion that Roman Catholicism should re-absorb Protestantism.

In the context of deep anxiety – on the part of some at least – about Islam vs the West, I came across this piece from Ernst Bloch, written about 100 years.

And so we go East: resisting it has already repeatedly been shown to be pointless. The Greeks warred against the Persians, and triumphed at Marathon and Salamis, but Alexander married Roxanne, dismissed his Macedonian bodyguard and died in Babylon. Scipio destroyed Carthage, but the Semite Peter destroyed Rome, and the Emperor Theodosius’ confession to the Bishop of Milan was the late and definitive revenge for the Battle of Zama. The Franks warred against the Arabs, winning at Tours and Poitiers, but the Pope proclaimed the Crusades, and with the champions of the Holy Sepulchre, the chivalry and the minnesang of the Song of Songs, the Gothic as well as the scholastic arts, wander from the Orient back over to Europe. So the way – at the beginning and certainly at the end, with the collapse of the evil, hard, narrow, frigidly faithless life of the European world – to find help has always gone East. How many times already, how very plausibly even, has Europe in the face of the Orient, of the arable chaos of every great religion – become a circumscribed peninsula whose destiny remains to seek contacts in order in order not to grow cold in its smallness and purely intellectual attitude, its religious anemia. (Bloch, Spirit of Utopia, pp. 168-9.

The ideology instigated by these two figures is fuelled by dreams of a prior [Christian] golden age. [Radical Orthodox] sympathizers avidly read European fascist literature and pursue religious ends via atheist methods. Recruits to the cause are not the excluded uneducated poor, they are intellectuals with a radical critique of Western society and its impact on [Christendom].

OK, I’ve made a few minor editorial adjustments. Now here’s the original text:

The ideology instigated by these two figures is fuelled by dreams of a prior Islamic golden age. Al Qaeda sympathizers avidly read European fascist literature and pursue religious ends via atheist methods. Recruits to the cause are not the excluded uneducated poor, they are intellectuals with a radical critique of Western society and its impact on Islam.

Uncanny is about the best I can come up with for the likeness? But who are the ‘two figures’? Maududi and Qutb? Or the authors of this piece, Philip Blond and Adrian Pabst?