Helen Kirk: December 2015
I saw you on the television the other day talking about banning all Muslims from America because they are all terrorists. I have to say I am slightly confused. You see when I've watched the news from your country I find that there are many stories of violence — again and again we see disillusioned young people taking weapons into schools and colleges to massacre students or police officers beating young black men because they are in the wrong place and yet in recent weeks I have only once seen a story involving Islamic extremists in the USA. Perhaps you should ban young people or police officers or (heaven forbid) guns!
The Muslims you have interacted with must be very different from those of my acquaintance. Only last week I was invited by the Muslim chaplain at Aylesbury Young Offenders Prison, along with 30 other faith leaders, to attend a celebration of the prison's new world faith rooms. It was a fantastic day: we ate together (which must have being a logistical nightmare considering the various dietary needs); we prayed together and then we learnt about each other's faith. It was amazing to see Jews, Muslims, Christians of every flavour; Sikhs; Hindus; Buddhists and Rastas all hugging, laughing, talking and listening; each with a message of hope and transformation for the young men incarcerated there. At the end of the day I felt the world was just a little bit better for it.
So could I suggest Mr Trump, that a way to a safer happier world is not to label one part of society as evil (didn't Hitler do that?) but to meet and engage with those who are different to us; to listen and to talk to each other in a spirit of tolerance and respect.
Don't get me wrong Mr Trump, I abhor violence; whatever name that violence goes by — terrorism, racism, war, abuse, 'domestic' violence — but the way to combat it is not by scapegoating but offering an alternative. Wasn't it one of your fellow countrymen, Martin Luther King, who said that he had a dream of a nation where children of all colours, races and religions might grow up side by side? I'd quite like to try this option because, let's be honest, history shows us that yours has never worked out particularly well!
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