Tuesday 25 October 2016

Ali's actions were powerful, but Muslims need another like him

Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30

Ali was a vocal advocate for civil rights. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)(AP Photo/FIle)
Ali was a vocal advocate for civil rights. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)(AP Photo/FIle)

Although I absolutely and without reservation agree with Dr Munjed Farid al Qutob's assertion that the late and much lamented Muhammad Ali "was simply the greatest of all time" (Letters, June 7) I cannot help but observe how the contemporary western world lacks an Islamic leader with the same courage and gravitas.

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Ali was the greatest - not simply as arguably the greatest heavyweight of all-time, but as a civil rights leader who stood shoulder to shoulder with Dr Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Like both of these men of integrity, grace and courage, Ali was prepared to sacrifice everything for a principle of equality that was not merely misunderstood, but violently rejected by the white political establishment.

As far as I am aware, not a single leader of the West's diverse Muslim community has had the courage to stand as tall in the face of such adversity as Ali did against racial injustice, and condemn the barbaric and murderous actions of homegrown jihadis.

When this is queried, the justification for such inaction is that they are too scared of the consequences from radicals within their own community. Or, when there is limited criticism, it is contextualised in a far-from-subtle critique of western policies in the Middle East.

Ali opposed injustice in what was arguably the most racist and politically volatile era in modern history, and he rejected the established social framework by demanding with grace and intelligence an equal place for African-Americans - despite the threat not just to his career, but his life, as xenophobic and racist organisations like the Ku Klux Klan put out their version of a fatwa on this magnificent human being.

Therefore, there could be no better way of honouring this wonderful example of courage, leadership and self-sacrifice than if a Muslim statesman, sporting icon or thespian did as Ali did - stand up and, without equivocation, condemn the horrendous actions of a so-called Islamic caliphate that does not speak for the ordinary Muslim citizens of the west, who just want to co-exist in peace with their gentile neighbours.

But sadly, they have no spokesman of Ali's calibre to speak for them.

Dr Kevin McCarthy

Kinsale, Co. Cork


Water row can be solved with trust

The water and waste provision arteries in this country are rotting. They could be revived for three euros a week, and we can't find a way forward.

The obstacles are that the charges will increase, and we pay for water already through general taxation. However, not addressing the water issue will probably individually cost us more in the long term through lost tourism, lost industry and the hit to 'brand Ireland'.

Last Sunday on the Marian Finucane Show, Seamus Mallon said that water charges have become inextricably linked with the banking fiasco that we're paying so heavily for.

He also, by the by, mentioned how he couldn't wait to leave an international match between Northern Ireland and England in Belfast because of the behaviour of some fans.

Another contributor on that show pointed out how he is happy now to just follow Ipswich Town, because of the behaviour of some English fans.

The banking crisis would appear to have had the same impact on our sense of country. Best to live locally and prudentially, because of what happened nationally during the banking crisis.

Guaranteed fiscal and financial rectitude and a well-run water company that won't hold the country to ransom is required to help restore confidence at a national level.

Name and address with editor


Brexit arguments leave me cold

As the European Referendum fast approaches, I can garner little enthusiasm to vote either way.

The 'Remain' campaign offers little more than patronising scare tactics, while the 'Leave' campaign disappointingly fails to promise a return to pound, inch and gallon Imperial measures - or pound, shilling and penny currency.

I feel that my ballot paper may well end up being spoiled.

John Eoin Douglas

Edinburgh, Scotland


Parents want change in schooling

Education Minister Richard Bruton's commitment to accelerating progress to provide choice for parents in primary education is welcome (Irish Independent, June 6), and he is right to explore different avenues to address the growing demand for change.

However, continuing to promote the flawed and unpopular Community National School model over others is, at best, misguided - and, at worst, a further waste of public money.

Devised by Mary Hanafin in 2007, this model relies on separating children of different faith backgrounds and attempting to provide religious instruction for all.

Even if this weren't divisive and impractical, it clearly does not address the actual demand for change, which comes from parents who want their children educated together in inclusive schools.

In surveys conducted by the Department of Education in 2012/2013, parents around the country expressed an overwhelming preference for the Educate Together equality-based school model; this model was preferred in 25 out of the 28 areas where the need for change was established.

In the three areas where new primary schools were announced for 2016, only 70 children were registered for Community National Schools - compared with 1,173 children for Educate Together schools. What parents want is not in question. What is required now is a properly funded programme to bring all the education partners together to make change happen.

Emer Nowlan

Chief Operating Officer

Educate Together


It's Trump's to lose, Hillary

Hillary Clinton has become the first woman to lead the charge for the White House on behalf of one of the two great parties in the US.

That is a wonderful feat. However, she needs to concentrate all her focus on the considerable obstacle in her path to power that is Donald Trump.

Ms Clinton has been depicted as stand-offish, haughty and elitist.

Unfair, perhaps, but she must show herself to be otherwise.

The paradox is that the deeply divisive Mr Trump has managed to unite the disaffected and the disenchanted, and he now has the kind of momentum that suggests Ms Clinton has it all to do.

That Mr Trump has come so far is remarkable. Much of what he says is playing on fears and will fuel alienation and resentment. But he beats a drum that many poorer Americans and those left out of the loop can follow. Unless Ms Clinton can develop charisma and a common touch, it is Trump's to lose.

Ed Toal

Galway city

Irish Independent

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