As someone training for ordained ministry in the Church of England, I am concerned by the rhetoric of some national newspapers and social media channels who seem to indulge in stories or events that involve so called “Muslims”.
Examples are the child abuse cases in Rotherham, the terrible events in Syria where Christians have been slaughtered by extreme acts of terrorism and the murder of Palmira Silva by a man who the Press informed us was a Muslim.
This is irresponsible reporting and dangerous and provocative literature. I think this kind of sloppy journalism is right wing in its approach and potentially threatening to law-abiding, genuine Muslims who are peace-loving and pose no threat to the public of the UK.
I am uncomfortable that provocative sound bites undermine the excellent work of regional attempts like that of Burnley FC who attempt to reach out to the Islamic community and make them feel part of a successful time in the club’s history.
I suggest there is an attempt by some media to create divides between faith communities and drive gaps between Christians and Muslims to create a sense that this country is not as diverse as one might like to believe it is.
In the examples given, I would suggest these are not the works of Muslims, but criminals. Someone’s skin colour or name does not mean they are of a particular faith or they follow the true teachings of that religion.
As for Christians, the response should not be one of finger-pointing, demonising or intolerance. Christians are governed by the teachings of Jesus Christ, not daily national newspapers. Jesus told his disciples to love thy neighbour as thyself; he never suggested intolerance, hatred or revenge and therefore that message of love and forgiveness should be the goal, not only for Christians of Burnley, but also for those who like to create division and hornets’ nests to sell advertising space and newspapers.
Burnley is a town on the up and we should work together to ensure it remains that way.
Lower Manor Lane, Burnley