LETTER: Terrorism, Muslim-Christian coexistence

31st Oct 2014

Sir, There’s much talk about “Islamic” terrorism, the “Trojan Horse” schools and arrests of alleged terrorists. This is utterly non-sense.
Terrorists come from all cultures, religions and backgrounds. Just pause for a second, and reflect of the sexual abuse, violence, harassment, child sex abuse, binge drinking, drug abuse, racism, bigotry, prejudice so rampant in the UK. Domestic violence claims the lives of two British women every week. Women fall prey to rapes, murders and sexual enslavement. Children sexually abused in churches, schools, hospitals by teachers, ex police officers, clergymen, health and social care workers under the gaze of God.
Over 1,200 patients lost their lives at the Mid Staffordshire hospital due to poor care and negligence. The elderly and the disabled were treated appallingly in nursing homes. They were denied food and water they languished in soiled sheets. They were denied the dignity in their twilight years. Dr Harold Shipman alone murdered over 400 patients, more any terrorist has killed on European soil and despite these, not a single mention of “Christian” terrorism.
Those who sow the seeds of divisions, hatred and enmity, should look no further than the city of Bethlehem, to see Muslims-Christians relations at their best. I went to the birthplace of Jesus in 2009. Any visitor to the Church of the Nativity would be struck by two scenes: first, opposite the church in the Manger Square is the Mosque of Omar, the second caliph of Islam. The land upon which the mosque is built, was donated by the Greek Orthodox Church, and it is important to remember that Caliph Omar had travelled to Bethlehem from Jerusalem specifically to issue a law that guarantees the safety of Christians and clergymen, and ensure the sanctity of the church. And as a testament of religious coexistence, olive oil was used by Muslims and Christians alike to lighten the surroundings of the mosque before light bulbs were invented.
Second, the church is empty throughout the year. Israeli restrictions and violations of the inalienable right to religious freedom, its constellation of checkpoints, has emptied the city of visitors and pilgrims. Even the numbers of Christians in the city have dwindled as a
consequence of Israel’s illegal occupation of Arab and Muslim lands. Let us hope that this city revered by followers of the three Abrahamic religions, will be resurrected as a bulwark of justice, tolerance and coexistence among all faiths and all communities.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

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