Century Marks

Century Marks

Veiled attack

A violent protest was sparked last month in a Parisian suburb when police checked the identity of a woman wearing Muslim garb, which is forbidden by French law. When the woman’s husband scuffled with the police, a larger battle with the police erupted, lasting two days. One teenager lost an eye in the conflict (The Week, August 2).


A survey by ICM, a London-based polling agency, shows that the United Kingdom’s estimated 280,000 Muslims give more money annually to charity than do Christians, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs. The ICM survey showed that Muslims say they donate about $567 per person per year, with Jews (also numbering around 280,000 in the UK) in second place, giving $412 per person annually. Christians gave considerably less—just over $300 per person—and atheists give the least, $177 (RNS).


Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, converted to Christianity when he was a university student at Trinity College, Cambridge. Before that, he “vaguely assumed there was a God,” he said. “But I didn’t believe. I wasn’t interested at all.” Although his conversion changed him deeply, at the time he was embarrassed by it; he told the Christian friend who had prayed with him not to tell anyone about it. He doesn’t think everyone needs to have the same experience. “There is an incredible range of ways in which the Spirit works,” he says. Welby’s spiritual director is a Catholic priest and hermit who started a community especially for people in long-term psychiatric care (Telegraph, July 12).


The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population. Half of the people in federal prisons were convicted on nonviolent drug charges. The number of nonviolent drug offenders in jails in the U.S. has increased 1,100 percent since 1980. Even though only 14 to 15 percent of drug users in the U.S. are African Americans, they account for 59 percent of those convicted for drug offenses and 74 percent of those sentenced to prison for drug convictions. The U.S. incarcerates African Americans at a rate six times that of South Africa during apartheid (Guardian, July 23).

Giving it away

Sam Simon, co-creator of the TV show The Simpsons, was diagnosed with colon cancer and given three to six months. He’s decided to give his assets away, especially to organizations that work on animal rights and on hunger. “The truth is, I have more money than I’m interested in spending,” Simon said. “Everyone in my family is taken care of. And I enjoy this” (New York Daily News, July 27).