Angry imams must subdue their egos
The Berlin attack, the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey, and the attack on a mosque in Zurich expose forms of extremism which are engulfing the world, and there is no doubt it needs to be addressed and restrained.
But here, in Ireland, another form of extremism is taking place, having germinated from extremist countries like Pakistan, which needs to be regulated, if not halted.
The extremist mind is very operational in many of the mosques of Ireland. This way of thinking is quite alive in the minds of many imams, and their way of thinking is a stumbling block for the elimination of extremism.
It is not enough just to give the impression that one stands against extremism by announcing that you stand against extremism, while, at the same time, discriminating against a particular faith or community, like some imams are doing in Ireland.
Such discriminative thought has spread into secular Institutions like Trinity, DCU, UCC; in fact, all universities in Ireland. This has also spread into government departments and interfaith forums where they are allowing themselves to be influenced by certain Irish imams, who define who is a Muslim and who is not.
I, as a Muslim, am facing on a daily basis religious discrimination at every level. As an imam, I am fighting huge walls of bigotry, and my community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, is being killed, persecuted, and all our basic human rights are trampled on in Pakistan and other Islamic countries.
I am afraid to say this is happening from certain schools of thought here in Ireland, simply because we say we are Muslims and our faith is Islam.
Extremism in Islamic countries takes many shapes, the peak being killing innocent human beings. But in Europe and the western world, it also takes the form of discrimination, causing hate, fear, and enmity, which leads young men and women to join such fanatical groups like IS.
If we are to stop such hate-filled extremism, then those imams in Ireland and Europe must subdue their egos, remove the hate, anger, and suspicion from their minds and hearts towards the west or humanity in general.
Only then can we prevent such attacks that are taking place in Europe and around the world and replace it with love, peace and harmony.
This is the message of his holiness, the Khalifa of Islam, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the sole leader of the largest unified Muslim community in the world, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. He has been advocating this for the last 15 years while addressing world leaders and religious heads of all faiths on his travels around the world.
I take this opportunity to wish all the people on the Island of Ireland and Europe a very joyous seasonal celebrations and may almighty God bless you all with peace and happiness in 2017.
Why a day’s notice wouldn’t work
Referring to one of the last celebrity deaths of 2016, that of pop icon George Michael, pundit and former footballer Gary Lineker tweeted: “Wouldn’t it be lovely if death gave us a day’s notice so giants like George Michael could see how much they were revered and adored.” This tweet obviously resonated with a lot of people as it was retweeted over 7,000 times and liked over 30,000 times.
My question is: Who would that benefit?
No doubt it would give people the opportunity to expression their appreciation of the person involved and show their love for them. But why wait until a person’s impending death to do this?
What would it be like for the person about to die? I wonder if they would ask themselves where all these people were during their lives! Would such an outpouring of appreciation and thanks to someone in their last few hours make their departure from the planet all the more difficult?
Funerals are important but they benefit the living. They allow people the opportunity to grieve over someone they knew or loved and also to give support to the immediate family and friends.
A person lives their life from birth to death. If there is anything death teaches us it is to appreciate our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. We do not have to wait until the very last moment to express our feelings. If our feelings are true to our hearts we will do this and do it often to the people we love while they are living their lives. Anything else is meaningless and only serves to placate our own troubled souls.
Coveney’s reform is long time coming
The initiative by Housing Minister Simon Coveney is aimed at real reform of the planning system and might be viewed as a fitting finale to the 1916 centenary commemorations. Cherishing all the children of the nation equally means taking the necessary steps to provide them with a sustainable future. At last we have a reforming minister, one who accepts that patronage politics has done too much damage to the hopes and lives of Irish people.
We are now seeing the justification of appointing our first planning minister. As a founding member of the Irish Planning Institute, four decades ago, I am delighted to see this initiative from the Custom House. The campaign for this fundamental reform of the planning framework began over a decade ago, so it is heartening to see it progress from derision to decision.
The minister’s evidence-based plan is based on the same reality that gave us the medical centres of excellence. In order to achieve sustainable growth we have to make realistic choices that will support patient care at the highest level. It is the responsible politicians who admit that every crossroads village can’t have a hospital. To serve a population of almost 5m we must have a well-placed network of hospital care that will deliver the best outcomes with the aid of the latest technology. The same guiding principle must now inform our national development plan.
Mr Coveney’s announcement suggests that lessons have been learned from the catastrophe of the previous National Spatial Strategy, which the then minister Phil Hogan candidly rejected for the useless sugar syrup that it was. That was a failure because it promised ‘one for everybody in the audience’. It was predictable that it could not succeed because it spread the jam too thinly. Mr Coveney says he has learned from that debacle.
This new scheme accepts that Ireland must adjust its national plan to meet our needs in a quickly changing world. We must scale-up in order to bring settlement size closer to what the infrastructure will bear. It is now two decades since we agreed that higher housing densities are needed to make public transport viable. The same can be said of other essential elements of the socio-economic infrastructure.
Banned staghunt still going ahead
The banned Ward Union staghunt still proceeded from Ashbourne, Co Meath, on the most popular day of the hunting calendar. Ignoring the 2010 ban, their supporters have dropped dramatically in numbers. A handful of cards followed the diehard animal abusers as a stag was released from her trailer about 2-3 miles away. This stag is bred by the hunt to provide fun for those hunters who chase and terrorise them for fun and kicks.
The Greens banned this hunt in 2010 but the hunt has avoided the rigours of legislation by exploiting the loophole that allows hunting with one or two dogs.
This hunt is unpopular with farmers due to their arrogance and with the public who watch them flout the law shamelessly. The Ward Union recently side-stepped a prosecution for illegal hunting brought by the NPWS due to a technicality. We hope their day will come, for the animals abused with no voice. We won’t give up fighting for justice.
The four pillars of non-violent action
I was involved for 40 years in the civil rights movement under the leadership of Dr Martin Luther King, Caesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers, and Dorothy Day of the Catholic Workers movement in the US. One of the most sacred tools available for peace activists as taught by these pacifists was the act of civil disobedience. According to Ghandi, King, Chavez, and Day, it is only permissible to break the law if four pillars are followed:
- The law being broken is so repugnant to civilised people that it is beyond debate — for example, having to sit in the back of a bus because of the colour of the person’s skin.
- Every reasonable avenue for redress has to have been pursued to no avail and not only did those in a position of power and influence deny the redress, but in the process they demeaned the applicant.
- The action taken in the process of breaking the law must not bring great hardship on those outside of the protest. For example: Civil disobedience does not justify shutting down a bridge for a prolonged period of time in that it would prevent ordinary people from their right of passage.
- The transgressor must be fully prepared to accept the punishment as handed down by a court without appeal or disagreement.
I would ask those in positions of power and influence, whether in the mass media, politics, or labour unions, not to abuse this most sacred act of non-violence unless they are prepared to follow these four pillars of non-violent action.