Taking a leaf out of Confucius’ book

As Hu Jintao opened the Olympics, the Chinese president consigned Mao to distant history and laid claim to Confucianism.

Many Chinese think that Confucianism has values which the rest of humanity could learn from. Perhaps. But the question is, does the Chinese regime really follow Confucius? And rather than talking about human rights, perhaps we should ask the Chinese government what it understands by Confucianism and the dignity of man. More…

Full marks to British tolerance

The Sikh schoolgirl Sarika Watkins-Singh’s victory at the high court to wear her “kara”, the steel bangle worn by Sikhs, is a reflection of British tolerance and a common-sense approach to different cultural communities when compared to the more fundamentalist approach of countries such as France. Twenty-first century France still cannot come to grips with a turban-wearing schoolchild. But it is sad that Sarika had to go to the court at all. As her solicitor said, each generation seems to have to go through the same struggles. More…

A visionary leader

Where does one go from Archbishop Rowan William’s statement? Bury it and resign, say some Anglicans; it’s ludicrous and inconsistent with British values say government, secularists and media, unhelpful say some Islamic academics. Yet the whole episode reveals how far the church has come and exposes the inherent universalism in secularism and the myth of the Enlightenment. It also echoes the main issue of our time: the tension between cultures. More…

Behind Behtzi

Freedoms are never absolute, least of all in multicultural, multiracial societies where responsibilities to co-exist must limit them. Most British people recognise this, which is why the career of the football commentator Ron Atkinson was ended when he made a racist remark. Britain’s Asian communities are generally less fazed by colour prejudice, but are sensitive to offence of the sacred: culture and the sacred defines Asians. The Sikh community’s reaction to Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play Behzti illustrate this. More…