Friday, March 04, 2005


I have just been reading a report on faith communities' responses on forthcoming plans for the government to introduce identity cards. The report makes a fascinating read. A lot of concerns are raised, particularly about the use the cards will be put to and what information is to be stored on them. What is not raised at all, however, but which I think is a faith communities issue, is the whole ethic of introducing the cards at all. (I wonder if this was outlawed by the way the enquiry was set up) It seems to me that the introduction of identity cards is all part of the current climate of clamping down on borders and services, which, on a global level, is so pernicious and oppressive of people in real need. Faith groups have in the past been upholders of human rights and supporters of refugees. Now the whole climate of opinion is shifting towards deep suspicion of anyone outside our own communities. They are labelled as problematic "asylum seekers". This term has become a dirty word these days, but surely those who sought asylum in our churches and other religious buildings were subjects of sympathy and succour in the past. I am now old enough to remember the days when Britain prided itself on welcoming refugees and offering them a haven from more opporessive regimes elsewhere in the world. The purpose of these cards is to stop people who are "not entitled" from receiving services - such as hospital care (I actually heard Blunket say this in a radio interview a few months back). Are they really intending to turn away anyone without ID and leave them to die on the door step? What ever sort of world are we coming to?


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