Bigotry and religion - a combustible mix.

Published January 6th, 2011 - 07:53 GMT
As Egypt went on high alert ahead of Coptic Christmas, Christians and Muslims joined ranks in a mass protest under the watchfull eyes of riot police
As Egypt went on high alert ahead of Coptic Christmas, Christians and Muslims joined ranks in a mass protest under the watchfull eyes of riot police

It is all too easy to exploit religion to find differences between people, and manipulate people's faith to foster hatred. Two very different events this week should remind us all of the essential importance of respecting each person's religion, and remembering the many things that bind us together as human beings, rather than finding those elements which divide us.

The first event was a horrible tragedy in Pakistan, when the religiously moderate Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was shot by a guard who disagreed with his statement that Pakistan's blasphemy law was a "black law". 

The governor was expressing his opinion and died for it, but stark prejudice should not be allowed to win, particularly when expressed by murder.

The second event was in Kuwait, as it goes through the agony of its latest political crisis. A professor of religion has pleaded with members of parliament not to use religion to back their various political postures. "Quoting Quranic verses or hadiths to explain their stances is unacceptable," he said.

He was making the vital point that religion has to be kept separate from politics. Mankind does not need encouragement to fill its political dialogue with religious prejudice. It is important that men and women of goodwill stand up to be counted, and reject religious bigotry.


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