Robert Epstein: Rant & Rave (19/08/12)

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The Independent Online


News arrives at our door that the average rent now being paid by private tenants in England and Wales has hit a record high of £725 a month. Not that we were at our door to receive it, because we were out working at a second job to be able to afford to eat. It is claimed that the year-on-year rise of 2.9 per cent is attributable to growing numbers of people being unable to get a mortgage. What, even though HSBC, Santander, Natwest et al started offering those brilliant 2.95 per cent, five-year fixes? What's that you say: only if you have at least a 40 per cent deposit? At the end of a decade when the price of the average home in England has risen by 94 per cent against a 29 per cent increase in wages? As you were, then. With us, in the property gutter.


On Friday afternoons, as the doors open, the congregation come in, remove their shoes, unfurl their prayer mats and face towards Mecca before praying in Arabic. Come the evening, a new group enters, dons head coverings and prayer shawls, and prays in Hebrew. It's not often we hear of a good news story involving Muslims and Jews, but this most certainly is. When the members of a Reform synagogue in Virginia heard there was not enough space for the local Muslim population to fit into the suburb's mosques during the month of Ramadan, they suggested their own space might be used as a peaceful retreat. And so, Jews and Muslims have co-existed entirely peacefully in the heart of American politic-land, shattering stereotypes to the extent that the community's imam and the synagogue's rabbi are considering a trip together to the Middle East. Now that's religious tolerance as it should be practised.