I am an atheist and someone who hopes that one day we will have secular education in all schools.
I am an atheist who believes in religious toleration. On that basis, I think we have common ground.
I believe I am living in a country that does not believe in religious toleration. This is in spite of much talk about 'British values' which apparently refers to such things as 'democracy', 'freedom' and - ironically, 'religious toleration'!
I believe that I am living in a country that does not believe in religious toleration because one faith is being singled out for special treatment. This is not toleration, it is discrimination.
We know the examples:
highlighting segregation of sexes in schools where there are Muslims whilst it goes on for many different reasons in the education system as a whole, between schools, or within schools;
highlighting Muslim dress whilst the religious dress of other faiths is not mentioned...
So, my position is this: while we are in a situation in which we do not have universal secular education with religious toleration, we should aim for an end to all forms of 'cherry-picking' and 'selectivity' . We should oppose any attempt by politicians to select this or that part of one faith's practises as 'objectionable' whilst failing to notice that equivalents are practised by other faiths.
With this in mind, may I plead with practitioners and leaders of all faiths to regard these selective attacks on Muslims as an attack on you and indeed on all of us?
May I plead with you to point out to politicians exactly how some of their statements about Islam or about Muslim religious practices, could if applied consistently, apply to you?
At present, they are getting away with being selective because, in part, we do not hear your voices saying, 'Us too!'
When one group is attacked, we are all unsafe. You too. Please do not ever think that by politicians attacking one faith, your faith is made secure. Please speak out, call the politicians to account and show that their cherry-picking and selectivity for what it is: prejudice, discrimination or just cynical vote-seeking.
Thank you for reading this.
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