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Categories: Past Event Articles

Monday November 25 2019

8th November, 2019, saw a wonderful, diverse gathering for MEND’s Interfaith event ‘Religiophobia’. As part of Islamophobia Awareness Month, MEND reached out to those of faith and none, to discuss ways in which we can promote tolerance and respect in today’s society.

The theme ‘Religiophobia’ drew together those of faith to question and consider the rights and values of religion in today’s society. Many concerns were raised such as the attempted banning of hijabs in schools, halal meat ban, the attempted banning of a Christian cross symbol and more. The concerns were spread amongst all as it was comprehended that what is taken from one religious minority, will eventually be taken from all.

In attendance was a representative from Humanist Society, Adrian, who passionately spoke about the need to ‘stand together against all forms of intolerance.’

Pauline Gallagher from Catholic Family Voice, educated the audience with insightful quotes from Pope Benedict, Richard Dawkins, Mother Theresa and the bible! She reiterated the need for loving thy neighbour,

“Loving your neighbour does not look like FORCE, suspicion, revenge, humiliation and silencing of the other. It does not seek to make people afraid to voice their opinion. Love is confident enough to risk disagreement.”

Dr Stef Keris, with his remarkable knowledge of history, urged the audience to educate themselves on Europe’s rich Islamic history and the major influences Islam had on Europe. He emphasised the need to abolish derogatory terms from language,

“Psychology behind labeling people like ‘turks’ make them foreign and dehumanised.”

Azhar Qayum, MEND’s Regional Manager, stressed the importance of maintaining religious protection in UK law, drawing in on the increasing secular laws in Europe.

Dr Peter Rookes called for a pluralistic view, encouraging those of faith and none, to humbly learn about one another, for schools to have interfaith visits and to recognise that religion does not divide however socio-political views do.

The evening was summarised simply yet powerfully by all speakers and audience in agreement;

“Let’s be able to agree to disagree, RESPECTFULLY.”

An inspiring evening by MEND, that reflected the true beauty of British Values; tolerance and respect for all.


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