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Swine Flu: Complacency or Inoculation

This rather wonderful picture from The Association of British Hujjaj shows Lord Ahmed of Rotherham being inoculated by a Dr Hussain, with government minister Lord Hunt looking on. I am tempted to run a caption competition. But the message is serious. Because of swine flu, they are urging Hajj pilgrims to take health precautions before leaving for Mecca.

They believe that swine flu could be a particular threat this year because of the large numbers from all over the world. But in fact a possibly more serious threat is meningitis. More than 20 British Muslims have died from meningitis after returning from Hajj in recent years, causing enormous grief.

A week on Wednesday, at the House of Lords, the British Hajj Association will launch its annual Hajj safety awareness week.

The impetus for this seems to be coming from Saudi Arabia itself.

Because in Britain, in the country’s Christian communities at least, a sense of complacency is settling in.

Many churches are ignoring the Archbishop of Canterbury and York’s recent instruction not to shake hands or kiss during the peace. And reports have reached me from several Roman Catholic churches in London, where communion is being taken in two kinds once more and the shared cup has returned.

When the annual autumn flu outbreaks begin, I wonder if anyone will do a comparison between the rate of infection in the two communities.

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