open letter this past week from well-known names, among them the comedian and actor Lenny Henry, urged Black Britons to get vaccinated.

The reasons for vaccine hesitancy vary.

It is not just baseless claims, like those in social media videos and messages circulated on outlets like WhatsApp that maintain — incorrectly — that the vaccines contain animal products forbidden under some religious practices.

Some are simply worried the drugs were developed too quickly. And, research suggests, that much of the hesitation grows out of Britain’s long history of racism and discrimination, as well as a general mistrust of the government and the medical establishment.

Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury, a Hindu temple that has inoculated nearly 20,000 people.

“There are fewer doctors who are coming out to tell us exactly what is going on and how this is affecting us,” said Ms. Muyisa, 54.

She considers herself lucky: “I educated myself. I managed to go and find information that helped me understand things.”

Zarvesha Rasool, a 19-year-old student at King’s College London, was inspired to get vaccinated by her faith, and went for her jab at the East London Newham Minhaj-ul-Quran mosque and community center, where she helps teach Quranic studies. Ms. Rasool pointed out that a central tenet of Islam is the importance of looking out not just for oneself but also for the greater good.

“If the government isn’t doing that, you kind of have to tell them, ‘Oh, we exist,’” she said. “Because that’s the only way out.”

In the northern English city of Leeds, Qari Asim, a senior imam, was spurred to action after seeing misinformation spread on WhatsApp in January.

Mr. Asim, the chairman of Britain’s Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, delivered a sermon that was shared across more than 100 mosques in which he reassured listeners that the vaccines are allowed under Islamic law.

Since then, over 300 mosques have addressed vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. Mr. Asim has also urged mosques to open their doors to the vaccine campaign.

“In this pandemic,” Mr. Asim said, “the messenger is as important as the message.”

View Source

Building a Mosque in France, Never Easy, May Get Even Harder

The disparities also touch on everything from government subsidies to private schools to credits on personal income for donations, which overwhelmingly favor Catholics and high-income taxpayers. But they are perhaps most glaring in physical structures. Even as Mr. Macron has pledged to nurture an “Islam of France,” followers of the faith suffer from an acute shortage of proper mosques across the country.

“It’s a total paradox,” Saïd Aït-Laama, an imam, said in an interview before Friday Prayer.

Unable to finance mosque-building themselves, generally unassisted by the state, Muslim communities have turned to governments abroad for help.

But that may now become more difficult under Mr. Macron’s new law, which is intended to combat Islamism by toughening rules on secularism and controls over religious organizations, including tightening the flow of foreign donations.

Last week, the government said that the new law would allow it to oppose the public financing of a large mosque in Strasbourg, in the eastern region of Alsace, where, for historical reasons, the construction of religious buildings can still qualify for government subsidies.

The interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, pressed the local government to cancel the funding, saying that the association behind the Strasbourg mosque had ties to the Turkish government.

Even before new law was drafted, the City Council of Angers used real-estate regulations last year to stop mosque leaders from turning to Morocco. A provision in Mr. Macron’s law would allow the national government, too, to oppose the sale of religious buildings to a foreign government if the French authorities consider the sale a threat.

Mr. Macron has said that the legislation is critical to fighting the kind of radical ideology that has sent French youths to fight in Syria and led to the deaths of more than 250 French people in Islamist terrorist attacks since 2015. Last fall, four people were killed in three separate terrorist attacks.

View Source