Wednesday 26 October 2016

Mosques must lead campaign against radicalisation

Published 04/08/2016 | 02:30

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Fr Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old priest murdered by jihadists near Rouen, France, last week Photo: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Fr Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old priest murdered by jihadists near Rouen, France, last week Photo: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

The current spate of terrorist acts inspired by Isil has prompted many people to ask which agencies in our society can most effectively take preventive action.

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I would suggest that the mosques and Muslim cultural bodies are best placed to lead the campaign.

We readily grant that Islam is in itself a peace-loving religion - though lately one Muslim spokesman claimed that there are Islamists in the ranks of the Muslim establishment - yet there seem to be widely held beliefs (or misbeliefs) inside and outside the Islamic community that foster jihadism: the very word 'infidel' for instance; also the claim that the suicide killer is guaranteed instant entry into paradise. This is a preposterous but sinister idea.

As Christians, we cannot be judgemental, we have to admit that for two millennia biblical literalism and rabid denominationalism 'justified' religious persecution at a savage level. In fact, we have only very recently abjured the burning stake and the executioner's axe; and we still have a long way to go: we too have our hardliners who resist or seek to reverse the steps taken towards renewal.

As it happens, these steps were the result of official statements by church councils like the Vatican Council and the WCC.

Apparently, since Islam was originally part of a theocratic system linked to the state, there is no similar central Islamic teaching authority, so the task of interpreting the sacred writings devolves upon local Islamic bodies. These bodies must now loudly and clearly denounce the recent terrorist attacks. The fact is that in our society there is real suspicion and real fear - not just fear of atrocities but of religious discrimination (such as happens in some Muslim countries) and of the threat of a Sharia law that can never be reconciled with modern secular democracy.

These fears and suspicions will remain with us until the religious authorities speak out boldly and clearly to repudiate the misbeliefs that feed into prejudice, discrimination or violence.

This process has to begin with healthy beliefs, beliefs shared with the rank and file.

The first step in this direction can only be taken by Muslim teaching authorities.

Fr Matt Carpenter, Rathgar, Dublin

O'Dea shouldn't throw stones

Willie O'Dea of Fianna Fáil has criticised Fine Gael's Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar, for "re-announcing the same initiative on multiple occasions" (Irish Independent, August 1).

If Mr O'Dea and Fianna Fáil were ever elected to government again, let's hope that he wouldn't re-announce any of the initiatives that were introduced by the Ahern-Cowen 'banana governments' in which he and Micheál Martin were very senior FF figures.

Let's hope, for example, that he wouldn't re-announce their reduction of the minimum wage. Fianna Fáil's reduction by 12pc of the minimum wage at a time in 2010/11, when ordinary people were beset by deep recession, stands as the most searingly right-wing policy move made by any government in western Europe since World War II.

Perhaps Mr O'Dea would re-announce the infamous comment he made during an interview while he was a minister, which sought to link a political rival to a brothel in Limerick?

Let's hope he wouldn't then re-announce his "categorical and emphatic" denial of having made that appalling comment. He'd then be obligated to re-announce his re-withdrawal of those remarks. And then he'd have to re-announce his re-renunciation of his own re-denial. It would be too bad if he had to re-announce his own re-resignation.

Paul Hickey, Slane, Co Meath

We're Irish, not European

It seems that for some time now there are forces at work that would like us, the Irish, to consider ourselves as European, as though we are somehow cut from the same cloth as those in the German-controlled EU.

But there are many things about us that defies this very notion. Here are some. Apart from our near cousins, the Scots, there isn't another culture or tradition on the European side of the Atlantic that plays our national, ancient and legendary sport of hurling.

Ireland hasn't invaded a country since before the Vikings invaded us, almost 1,000 years before the European countries, such as Belgium, Holland, France and Germany established their colonial powerhouses all over the globe.

The archaeological record of Ireland is unique compared to the rest of Europe in that we do not have indigenous coinage that pre-dates the 8th Century, yet our Brehon laws are amongst the oldest codices of law in the world.

Dermot Ryan, Attymon, Co Galway

Tolerance vs intolerance

Pope Francis said last week the world was at war but it was not a war of religions.

But it is, however, I believe, a war about the nature of God. Is God a loving and tolerant God or a cruel and intolerant God? Hopefully, a tolerant and loving God who turns the other cheek to cruel deeds, will win out.

Sean O'Brien, Kilrush, Co Clare

Honour Casement's last wish

Yesterday marked the centenary of Roger Casement's execution for his involvement in the 1916 Rising. Casement came from a wealthy Anglo-Irish family, he later became a British diplomat, knight and an human rights activist who exposed the abuse of slaves in the Congo and Amazon.

His dying wish was to be buried at his home place at Murlough Bay, Co Antrim.

This was not on the cards in 1965 when he was reinterred in Glasnevin, as then British PM Harold Wilson feared that "a reburial there could provoke Catholic celebrations and Protestant reactions".

Roger Casement's last wish should be fulfilled now. A repatriation of his remains to Co Antrim would show that unionists and nationalists can work to together to respect the last wish of a son of both traditions without giving into to triumphalism.

Patrick Bamming, Dublin 1

Church integrity hurt by row

I read with dismay and deep sadness of the changes afoot within the Dublin Diocese, whereby future Catholic seminarians will receive their training in Rome instead of the national seminary in Maynooth.

While one should not doubt Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin's better appreciation of such matters, it is most regrettable that the Catholic hierarchy could not address issues internally.

In my view the Archbishop's well-meaning decision does nothing to promote the integrity of the Irish church as a whole.

Bryan Smyth, Maynooth, Co Kildare

Irish Independent

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