3 June 2014

-          Belfast Telegraph
-          Irish News
-          Newsletter
-          Derry Journal
-          Sentinel
-          Other local papers in other areas?
The recent blanket demonization of all Muslims has not only caused hurt, bewilderment and anger among Irish and British Muslims, many Christians, people of other ethnicities and faith, and people of goodwill also feel hurt and betrayed. Our society still struggles with pervasive sectarianism, which is in large part, the exclusion and demonization of the other on religious and political grounds. Recent attacks have shown that racism is also present, and now as part of this same family, we have Islamaphobia. The destructive three arise from deep prejudice, which has its roots in ignorance, fear and insecurity. Recent comments revealed a serious ignorance of Islam and also of the history of Christianity. When we don’t know, and more seriously, don’t know that we don’t know, we create out of fear, stereotypes and demons. We not only dehumanize the other, we dehumanize ourselves.

We now have the opportunity to reject sectarianism, racism and Islamaphobia, and re-double our commitment to a truly shared future in Northern Ireland, a common good. To this end we require political and religious leadership that will encourage us to build a democracy, which is plural, diverse, inclusive, respectful and positively tolerant. Such a society will be truly democratic and not in any sense theocratic (human rule on behalf of God), one in which all count and the dignity of every human citizen is paramount. These are the ethical responsibilities of political and civil society.

We the undersigned therefore pledge ourselves to the building of a truly human, inclusive and ethical society, in which all citizens are cherished equally.