I’m not sure how to proceed with this post whilst staying within the realms of political correctness, so I’ll simply express my thoughts instead. If I am wrong on any factual point – and I would like to stress factual point because opinions, by default, can not be wrong – I hope people will correct me.

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Whilst procrastinating yesterday I found this article about a man who is determined to “take back Islam from its hostage takers” and  I think Dr Naif al-Mutawa’s letter to his sons speaks for itself.

The papers have demonised the Islamic religion to a point where it has become synonymous with terrorism. Words like ‘Jihad’ – which, according to a friend of mine, originally meant ‘an internal,  spiritual struggle towards self-improvement’ – have been adopted by extremists and turned into something else.  In no uncertain terms, it’s the equivalent of someone calling me a marauding, pillaging rapist because my country participated in the Crusades (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades – if anyone is interested).

I maintain that to give something a name – and in this case, we have called the political and religious unrest ‘terrorism’ – is to give it power. By doing so, it becomes an entity in itself and is then outside of our control. Were we to actually talk about the things that happened on 9/11, or to openly educate our children in regards to other faiths, then perhaps we wouldn’t be having this problem now.

We live in an age where schools are not permitted to perform nativity plays at Christmas time for fear of offending someone, despite the fact that this is the core of the holiday. In our struggle for equality we seem to have forgotten that different countries and cultures are just that – different. We should highlight and celebrate that our wonderful little island-nation has such a diverse population. If we teach children to understand one another’s heritage and encourage them to ask questions about other cultures, then the frightening aspect of the unknown will be gone and they’ll simply accept that this is how people are.

Those who are scared of their fellow man and try to encourage racial and religious hatred should be pitied, not feared. It is fear in the first place that is making them lash out and to be constantly afraid of someone because they are different to you must be the most terrible thing in all the world.

I’d like to close with a quote from Dr Mutawa: “… knowing that children will learn vicariously from THE 99 to be tolerant of all who believe in doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, that, my son, makes me very proud.”

And rightly so…