A United Kingdom means not only uniting the four home nations but uniting all the faiths and beliefs into one coherent and tolerant entity
After three recent terrorist atrocities those who seek to demonise one particular religion have had a field day. “It’s all the fault of the Moslems” say an extremist band of foul mouthed creatures in the UK of the type that tried to foment problems in Liverpool yesterday. Whilst the ever foul Donal Trump tries to use what happened in the UK to defend his racist and extremist policies for immigration in the USA.
If you believe that this is true please answer two questions for me. When the ‘troubles’ were at their height in Northern Ireland did you attack all Christians because some of the terrorists promoted a Catholic as well as national cause and some of them promoted a Protestant as well as a loyalist cause? When you see the Government of Israel doing something that you disagree with do you think that it’s the fault of all people of the Jewish faith?
If you answer to both these questions is yes please stop reading. You will never agree with my interpretation of events and actions and this will only make your blood pressure rise!!
I have met people of many, many faiths. I have visited countries where the predominant religion is Christian (Anglican or Catholic); Muslim, Hindu, Sikh. In the vast majority of these people of any faith are equally accepted. They share the same proportion of good and bad people as each other. You can carry out your faith whilst they carry on with theirs. In some of these countries such as Egypt Coptic Christians and Moslems have lived together for up to 1,500 years. They have done so in peace.
Problems in those and other countries arise when extremists want to upset that time honoured sense of harm between sects and religions. They do it in most cases not because of a deep sense of religion but because they want power. This could be economic power of political power or it could be personal power. But in all these cases where they claim to be doing this for their God or their Prophet the good people of that country deny it. Whether it’s the Koran or the Bible they point out that their Prophet preached goodness, toleration and care for others. They verbally and philosophically take on the extremist; the terrorist.
In March I went to visit my local mosque which is outside my ward in Liverpool but serves many of my constituents. This is what I said then:
“Repeatedly we were told today that there is no conflict between the Muslim way of life and the British way of life. That is what their youngsters are taught in the evening and weekend school. That is the way they carry out their work in the Mosque and in the community. From the reception that all the external members of the community were given today I have no doubt that it is true. For those that choose to live here to be a good Muslim is to be a good Briton”.
What I wrote then I know to be true today. I met in my mosque doctors, nurses, Imams, social workers, shopkeepers, restaurant owners, building operatives, men, women and children. They could all have been my neighbours- in fact three of them were my neighbours! Good people who had their faith which part defined them but not as much as their national identity.
I concluded my blog then with this:
“Together we can defeat extremism. Together we can show the [prejudiced that all faiths have the same ration of the good, bad and the nasty. Together we can create a Liverpool and a Country where our children can live in peace.”
These comments were made before the attack on Parliament, before the attack in Manchester and before the attack last night on innocent young people seeking a nice night out. The deaths have been indiscriminate. Mostly young but people of all faiths and religions. As Manchester prepares to hold its benefit concert for those that died two weeks ago all of us need to reflect on the good and the bad. All of us need to seek out the truth that lies behind the hard words of the political extremist. We then need to come together to build a Country of which we can all be proud. Open, tolerant, progressive, caring and sharing. If we do that then none of the people who have died at the hands of political terrorists will have died in vain.
“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them”.