Thursday 27 October 2016

Letters: Let's work harder to break down mistrust of Muslim world

Published 05/07/2014 | 02:30

A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa. The offshoot of al Qaeda which has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria has declared itself an Islamic
A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa. The offshoot of al Qaeda which has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria has declared itself an Islamic "Caliphate" and called on factions worldwide to pledge their allegiance, a statement posted on jihadist websites said on Sunday. The group, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, has renamed itself "Islamic State" and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi as "Caliph" - the head of the state, the statement said. REUTERS/Stringer
A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul. MALIKI/REUTERS/Stringer/Files
A Muslim boy with his

* Con Coughlin is right to allude to the insidious threat posed by the rise of radical groups in Iraq and Syria, bent on mayhem and destruction.

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However, Western governments have been complicit in the creation of such groups in the first place. At one time, it was the West with its clients in the gulf region who financed al-Qa'ida's terror network to fight the Russians at the height of the Cold War era. Even now, the UK intends to train a hundred thousand so-called moderate rebels to defeat Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. This is bound to stoke the embers of hatred and enmity and perpetuate the suffering of the Syrian people. In the absence of a coherent opposition, the political, military and administrative vacuum will probably be filled by Isis and its affiliates.

The West needs to change its strategies. It is lamentable that the chasm of misunderstanding between the Muslim and Western worlds is widening at a time when both need each other in the battle against global threats ranging from antibiotics resistant superbugs, climate change, to the eradication of hunger, poverty and emerging threats such as the Ebola virus.

What binds both worlds together is much more powerful than what divides them. Islamic societies are not as backward as they are usually portrayed in Western media. Islamic traditions nurture the compassion towards the underprivileged and the poor, and preserve the intellectual inquisitiveness for equity, knowledge and sciences since the dawn of human civilisation.

Women are not second-class citizens in Islam. In the words of the tradition 'the ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr'. We cannot take the practices of some radical groups or Islamic states as representatives for over one billion Muslims across the globe.

We shall need to work harder to understand each other, to drain any poison between us, and to lay the ghost of suspicion and fear.



Holy day for prayer, not drink

* I refer to the article 'Publican senator calls for end to Good Friday drinking ban' (Irish Independent, July 3.

Good Friday is a day when Christians of all denominations throughout the world take time to reflect on the Passion and death of Christ. On Good Friday, Catholics are asked to share in that sacrifice through the traditional practices of prayer, the veneration of the Cross, and through fast and abstinence. Many people in Ireland still join in these religious practices and enter into the spirit of Good Friday and Easter, which is the most important feast of the Christian calendar.

It is a matter for the civil authorities to decide on the context and content of legislation, and this should serve the common good.

The sale of alcohol on Good Friday is an issue on which Christians can make up their own minds based on an informed conscience and on the content of proposed legislation.

The reality of Ireland's relationship with alcohol was highlighted only one week ago by the Health Research Board study of Irish people's alcohol consumption. The publication revealed that one-in-three of the population is a harmful drinker, and that 177,000 people are dependent on alcohol.

The HRB's findings concerning our young people were even more disturbing: three-quarters of alcohol is consumed as binge-drinking and two-thirds of our people in the 18-24 age bracket binge drink.

Whilst stark, these trends are not new. In response, since 1997, the Irish Bishops' Drugs Initiative has sought to mobilise parish communities, together with other service providers, to make appropriate pastoral responses to prevent alcohol and drug misuse, and to respond to issues arising from the problematic use of alcohol and other drugs.

It is incumbent on politicians, and on all of us, to propose solutions to address the human suffering arising from alcohol misuse, and to directly challenge the agenda of the drinks industry.





Residents on the right track

* I once bought a house whose garden backed on to a railway line. I was annoyed when the frequency of trains using the line subsequently increased, but again, I had known about the line when I'd purchased the house so I didn't consider I had grounds for complaint.

There has been a stadium at Croke Park for over 100 years, and all local residents must have known about it when they moved into its vicinity. At least they are receiving some compensation for their inconvenience. (And no, I'm not going to any of the concerts).



Running the the party gauntlet

* Weekend in and weekend out, and often nights in between, marauding gangs of carousing revellers from Dublin town mainly blight places such Kilkenny and Carrick-on-Shannon. Men and women, not to mention the children, residents of these beautiful, elegant places are forced to run the gauntlet of ultra-binge drinking, kerbside urinating, scantily-clad people toppling over, not to mention the drink and drug-fuelled fighting and brawling.

Please don't talk to me of people being discommoded around Croker.




Garth's got friends in Limerick

* It appears that the onus of solving the GB problem has fallen to Limerick in this its year as City of Culture. In the time-honoured way of western gambling, now that Garth has gone all in with his "five or nothing", we should counter with a "10 or else . . ." The Gaelic Grounds sits waiting with it's 50,000 capacity plus the pitch area.



Choose your words wisely

* Killian Foley-Walsh (Irish Independent, July 3) seems quite pleased with himself that he has managed to describe next spring's referendum on marriage equality as "the same-sex marriage referendum" – therefore avoiding any accusation of "inaccuracy, offensiveness or selective wording".

If Mr Foley-Walsh wishes not to be accused of "selective wording", can we also expect him to use the term "opposite-sex marriage" in any further communication on the matter of marriage in Ireland? It would certainly be more accurate.



Rising didn't damage Bruton

* I refer to the article 'John Bruton: Easter Rising damaged Irish psyche' (Irish Independent, July 1). It can be said with certainty that the Easter Rising didn't damage Mr Bruton's political career.

It would appear that he is under the impression that the position of Taoiseach that he was privileged to hold fell out of the sky . . . and had nothing whatsoever to do with the event in our history that led to our and his independence.

I am reminded of course that the highlight of his career, according to himself, was his infamous evening spent in the company of none other than Prince Charles – titular commander-in- chief of the Parachute Regiment.



Irish Independent

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