Published in The Oxford Times on Thursday March 3 2016
Alison Boulton, in her feature Radical Approach to Terror, interviewed Professor Roger Griffin of Oxford Brookes University ahead of his lecture on March 16.
Researching the background to my novel Brushstrokes in Time (set in China between 1962-1993) I found myself making comparisons between the radicalisation of Chinese youth in the sixties with what is happening to many Muslim young people today. Chairman Mao laid the foundations for that radicalisation by creating the Cult of Mao. He made himself into an almost godlike figure. In nursery schools children were taught to sing Little Stool.
‘Little stool don’t move.
I am going to ask Chairman Mao to come down and sit.
I will give him a massage
He will say I am a good baby.’
When those babies became teenagers he used the Cultural Revolution to turn many of them against their parents and teachers.
Saudi Arabia used its oil wealth to fund mosques and madrasas throughout the world. In Pakistan, almost the only education available to many poor children in remoter parts of the country is in those madrassas. Their mosques and madrassas teach Wahhabism, an extreme interpretation of Islam. Saudi Arabia didn’t intend to create the violence of the Islamic State but like the Cult of Mao their fundamentalism has fertilised the ground.
Deng Xiaoping suffered under the Cultural Revolution and when he gained power he set about changing China into the optimistic country it is today. Hopefully a more joyful form of Islam will be embraced after many Muslims experience the viciousness of political Islam.
I live in the village of Kennington and your headlines Villagers tell council: keep your townies off our manor does not reflect the attitude of the majority of the 4000 villagers. 25 villagers who oppose the holiday retreat turned up at the Parish Council and the rest of us, who mostly have no objection to the proposal, failed to attend.
A reporter from The Mail on Sunday was seen around the village last Saturday trying to whip up sensation and was reported to be rather disappointed. On Sunday, there were around 300 at our annual KOA Fun Run Walk in Bagley Woods and it was a hot topic. I met no one who was against the proposal. We have a village Facebook page Kennington Connected and the discussion on that is overwhelming not opposed to the idea.
Kennington is a socially active village with over 40 organisations including Kennington Good Neighbours and it unique 46 year old twin KOA which raises over £20,000 per annum for development projects by organising events like the Fun Run. Sadly those of us running these village activities struggle to find time to do more than that and fail to get involved in parish politics. Villagers from Kennington make up one of the biggest cohorts of the League of Friends at the JR hospital. The Kennington Cancer Fund is another example of village generosity and many villagers are actively engaged helping homeless charities, hospices and Citizens Advice Bureaus. The Oxford Times says of the village choir.
“Among the proliferation of choirs in Oxfordshire, the Kennington and District United Church Choirs stands apart. While some choirs might take part in the occasional charity bash, this exceptional group of singers only ever performs for worthy causes.” Now in its 42 year it has raised over £432,000 for good causes.
Broadcaster Bill Heine once said , ‘ Kennington could claim to be the most generous village in England.’(see vimeo clip with Peggy Seeger for a true picture of Kennington)