Pope Francis is right to call for opening dialogues with adversaries. However, terrorists bent on conquering the cradle of Christianity and planting the black flag of their self-declared caliphate, represent only themselves. They do not represent the more than one billion Muslims scattered across the globe. Muslims and Christians have coexisted harmoniously throughout centuries, from the times of Prophet Mohammed and the dawn of human civilisation.
It is true that the Muslim world is facing formidable challenges at the present juncture and that a few terrorist organisations and individuals are perpetrating gruesome and chilling acts in its name, assailing its true message of fraternity and tolerance and sowing discord and enmity among believers and non-believers alike. But extremism has no religion, creed or colour. Extremism, prejudice and bigotry are as old as history.
Let us not forget the Holocaust, the most atrocious massacre witnessed in contemporary history when six million Jews perished in Christian Europe; and the unmitigated anguish endured by defenceless Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the countless Muslims tortured, humiliated and murdered in Burma, Central African Republic and elsewhere.
Interfaith, intercultural and interreligious dialogue can positively contribute to the advancement of good governance, compassion, tenderness and the appreciation of the sanctity of human life and dignity. The Koran says "if any one slew a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people. And if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people." (The Koran, Al Maida: 32).
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
Irish nationalism a mutation
In commemorating 1916 we must substitute critical reasoning for romance and fantasy. Nations are only 'imagined communities' and nationalism of 'hate the other' is negative. Padraig Pearse said: "Irish hate of English is a holy passion". Universal love promotes forgiveness and fellowship and necessary in a global village. Knowledge is power and a creative scientific community sufficiently big to push out the frontiers of knowledge would be over a hundred million people.
Financial and intellectual capital is scarce and only big units have the critical mass to be effective. States that push out the frontiers of knowledge are a blessing and those that push out the frontiers of their territories are a curse. The US and UK innovated most of the world's significant technology. The world is interdependent and shared sovereignty and integration is good. The founding fathers of the EU described nationalism as a sewer down which flowed the blood and wealth of Europe in two major wars.
The EU was set up to prevent a recurrence and has the size to keep pace in a high-tech race. An open society based on an ideology of liberty - not race or creed - is best to maintain human rights. Freedom is about human rights, the freedom to be different, to form your own opinions, to change and grow. Irish nationalism was a mutation of race and religion that enforced compulsory conformity. History cannot be changed. Bear the pain, lean from it and it will not be lived again.
A case of history repeating
Economists - blind to the lessons learned from the 'Celtic Tiger collapse' six years ago - seem happy with the speed of the property price rises. They continue to asses house values using the peak figures achieved in the boom - even though it was nationally acknowledged these prices were outlandish and not value for money.
In Dublin, houses were up 3pc in October and are now 24pc higher than a year ago. Likewise, house prices outside the capital are up 8.3pc in same period. Note prices are still down 35pc nationally since the peak in 2007. To me, the correct market values are the prices now prevailing.
I have been observing advertised house prices in a number of weekend national newspaper property supplements, particularly in the Dublin area, where prices are suddenly becoming very similar to those in 2007. Property columnists, not economists, are even warning on the danger of another bubble.
The same wise guys who said: "Why didn't somebody call 'halt' on the Celtic Tiger bubble?" are now fanning a new bubble. Finance Minister Michael Noonan clearly wants the property party to continue indefinitely.
Challenging him is his 'obedient' servant Patrick Honohan, head of the Central Bank. He seems desperate to take sensible action to, at least, appease the Dublin house market and avert any possibility of another national economic inferno.
I believe a lot more social housing is the solution, and let those who can afford it follow the markets. Sanity must prevail.
Thurles, Co Tipperary
Parents clued in about schools
I am baffled by John Walshe's article (November 27) in which he asserts that parents "have a right to know more about how well our kids are being educated". (I deplore the use of the word "kids" in relation to children, as kids are young goats) As an educationalist for the past 36 years I can assure your readers that parents are very tuned into all aspects of the school life of their children.
Schools are very engaged with critical self-evaluation,and this is examined in all 'whole school evaluations', and standardised tests results are returned to the Department of Education on a yearly basis. Parents' associations are an integral part of all school activities and their opinions are listened to and acted upon.
It seems to me that the call for "league tables" comes from the media and not from parents - because they already have all the information they need.
Address with editor
Health and funding
Illness, both physical and mental, is a very fickle thing. It doesn't talk or communicate. It doesn't listen or negotiate. Time is of no interest to it and it can strike like a thief in the night. Words such as over budget, National Service Plan, deficit, going forward, HSE and bed blockers are of no consequence to it. As somebody who has suffered several serious illnesses and survived - thanks mainly to our superb medical people and all hospital staff, I can vouch for this .
Therefore there is no such thing as over budget when it comes to health and illness - only underfunding.
Dr Aidan Hampson
Artane, Dublin 5
Dail could learn from sports
I have recently being thinking of Ireland's position in the world of sport.
Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry at the top of the leader board in a prestigious golf tournament; Rory number one in the world; Katie Taylor number one in world women's boxing for the fifth time; our men's amateur boxers one of the very top teams in the world; the Irish rugby team number three in the world.
I couldn't help thinking, how did such a great little country get such nondescript - with a few notable exceptions - politicians through the years?
Donabate, Co Dublin
Save us from Sinn Fein antics
That the Dail and the country should now be doomed to a near-weekly display of the Shinners' stunt politics is a damning indictment of our parliament's disciplinary procedures, and a disappointing one at that.