The London Bridge Attack

london bridge

The tragic incident on London Bridge has given us all pause for thought. This broken world is unbelievably cruel at times. And why? If you are capable of violence do you resort to violence merely because you can?

The concept of deliberately targeting civilians, the innocent, the young, to make a political point, is a familiar one. To merely say it is wrong seems trite but none the less it needs saying. It is wrong. Again and again it needs saying. It is profoundly and utterly wrong, both in the eyes of compassionate humanity and in the eyes of God.

Our hearts bleed for the victims. And at the same time we cherish and admire the response of those that went to their aid, whether from the police force, or from those many bystanders that stepped forward to help, or from the health service (and incidentally one in four of Britain’s doctors and one in six of Britain’s nurses are migrants).

We cannot and must not ever allow terrorism to succeed in its aim. And in this instance the aim is to sow fear and division, to foster hatred and spite. To allow our hearts to be hardened by this venomous act is to allow the perpetrators a frisson of success. Whereas what they deserve is our pity and forgiveness because then they fall subject to the judgment of God, and his judgment is and always will be remorseless when the innocent are the victims.

If we must be angry, better we rage against God for permitting such injustice, if the only other choice is to allow ourselves to become consumed with anger with our fellow man. Can we regard our enemies as our friends? For hatred can we return love? In so doing we break the power of evil and love casts out fear.

Support Timepeace

TimePeace is a not-for-profit refugee help group put together by Alice Carter, an ex-NCF intern, and they are currently building an app which will connect refugees and local citizens based on exchange of skills and activities, for free, and by the hour. They are trying to tackle issues of social integration and shattering preconceptions of refugees in an innovative way, and at a local level.

They have one private donor, and grant money from Trust for London, which has meant they've been able to start building, but they are also using crowdfunding to get the money to complete development. You can find their page here - http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/timepeaceapp

Manchester

Manchester

It was with profound sadness that we heard the news of the Manchester bombing. This act of cruelty was all the more atrocious because it deliberately targeted the young and vulnerable.

Those who set themselves apart by committing acts of extreme brutality, and those who support them, have often been warned of the consequences of their actions.

Violence spawns violence.

Anger spawns anger.

Hate spawns hate.

Our response, however, will be different. We cherish our values. We stand for compassion. We stand for sincerity. We stand for loyalty. We stand for hope. We stand for an inclusive society rather than a small minded world based on exclusivity. We stand with all of good heart. We stand together, strengthened, not cowed, by this piteous act.

This act redoubles our resolve to protect our vulnerable, most particularly the very young and the very old, the weak and the dispossessed – And to prevent them from all harm. And in so doing build a world founded on love and fellowship and complete freedom from fear.

Congratulations Emmanuel Macron

We at the Next Century Foundation would like to wish the new President of France luck in his quest to unite France after the highly polarizing presidential election. He has a monumental task ahead of him. Macron must appeal to both the disillusioned minorities in France who feel marginalised as well as exasperated French patriots who have looked to the far right for answers to their economic and sovereignty fears.  We hope he continues to uphold the virtues of liberty, equality and fraternity upon which the Republic of France was built.  We also hope that Macron, as an exponent of the European project, adopts a foreign policy that reflects the values of the European Union, the most important of which are the respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, equality and the rule of law. Whilst there are many domestic problems that need to be resolved, including the stagnant French economy and his weak legislative powers, we are expect that Mr Macron will not turn a blind eye towards the injustices in the Middle-East and the humanitarian crisis that continues to persist on the shores of the Mediterranean.

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A New Hope for Libya

On the second of May, two of the most prominent Libyan political figures met in Abu-Dhabi for a meeting that lasted 2 hours long, mediated by both Arab and International actors. This was the first meeting of this type between the clashing leaders  since the UN sanctioned Libyan Political agreement was signed in January 2016, which instated the Government of National Accord.

Khalifa Haftar,  one of the two aforementioned leaders, has often been described by mainstream media outlets as a renegade military leader, with ambitions to institute military rule upon Libya. He has been exile in Virginia,  America for nearly 20 years after his failed attempt to overthrow Colonel Gaddaffi in a military coup, gaining U.S. citizenship. Currently, he is based in the east of the country and leads the self-named Libyan National Army or what is also known as Operation Dignity. Due to his unwavering stance towards Islamic extremism and his strongman demeanor, Khalifa Haftar has ascended to the forefront of Libyan politics, he now enjoys financial and military support from the Kremlin as well as the UAE, it has been noted that General Al-Sisi is also an ally of General Haftar. But we should be under no delusion, some Libyans (many of them non-Islamist) are opposed to any rule composed of General Haftar. They do not want what they perceive to be another military dictator, after paying in blood for their freedom.

In stark contrast Fayez Al-Sarraj the leader of the Government of National Accord and the head of the presidential council, has led a particularly uneventful life before his designation to the prime ministerial role. Mr Al-Sarraj hails from Tripoli and was born to a wealthy family, he trained as an architect and his father owned vast swathes of land. Much responsibility rests on his shoulders following his appointment, he cannot afford to alienate the General Khalifa Haftar because of the large foreign support he is provided with and the growing strength of his army. Conversely, it is the general consensus that the country needs to submit to civilian authority. President Al-Sarraj has been adamant in wanting a unified Libyan army under civil control, a stipulation which Haftar is against, although the General has never truly admitted so in public.

As is always the case in high level diplomatic negotiations, it seems that there is a disconnect between these ostensible leaders and the people governed.  General Haftar and Mr Al-Sarraj meeting in Abu-Dhabi was convened amidst a backdrop of a dire economic situation in Libya. Libya’s oil production output, the state’s most significant revenue generator, is a fraction of 2010 levels. Foreign capital investment has grounded to a halt, and the Libyan tourism industry has been devastated. This has all led to delayed and sometimes cancelled salary payments, substandard infrastructure even in Tripoli, virtually non-existent public services and inadequate healthcare, forcing people to travel to Tunisia and Egypt to obtain life-saving treatments. It is a sad fact that ordinary Libyan people are the ones  feeling this financial squeeze the most.

Robust, unified governance and rule of law is the hallmark of all developed and civilised countries. Through forging relationships, and crossing political divides this meeting  provides hope for the creation of such a government, all in the pursuit of a prosperous Libya. We wish the two leaders good luck, and remind them that they would do best by serving the populace rather than pursue policies of greed, and corruption which have bedevilled North Africa in the past.

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The attack on Britain’s parliament

We are profoundly saddened, as is everyone we know, by the lone wolf attack on Britain’s parliament by an individual who must presumably be an ISIS / Daesh sympathiser.

What makes a man commit an atrocity of this kind in which innocent civilians are killed? Any attack that deliberately targets civilians is morally repugnant in the eyes of humanity at large, and is to be presumed utterly reprehensible in the eyes of any God the attacker may or may not believe in.

The worst of it is that any atrocity is by definition one of the worst crimes conceivable because atrocity breeds atrocity as retribution breeds retribution and a cycle of violence is spawned.

Forgiveness is difficult; moreso for some of us when we suppress our natural reaction to those that target the innocent. And in this instance a number of the injured were children. And the natural reaction of at least some of us is to wish any such attacker may burn in hell.

However there is a place beyond forgiving – for some acts can never be forgiven except by the righteous and there are precious few of those in this world. But there is a place beyond forgiving in which we show compassion, mercy and love to our enemies and their victims alike.

The enemies of humanity (whether Daesh / ISIS, or Al Qa’idah, or indeed any who deliberately target non-combatants of any kind) expect and deserve our outrage. Indeed they often act as they do in order to provoke our hatred.

We defeat them best, and their entire ideology of exclusivity, when we find it in our hearts to offer them our pity, and face down their self-consuming hatred with our own ideology of inclusivity, compassionate mercy, and love.

God will judge them, we should not. Nor should we allow extremists the satisfaction that their actions may have in some way instilled in us any sense of fear in regard to tomorrow. We have no need to worry about tomorrow. God is already there.