Belfast Telegraph

Sectarianism, racism and intolerance are blights on society and we won't combat them until there is mutual respect

Editor's Viewpoint

The attack on a kebab shop in east Belfast underlines the racism of very misguided people, and the anti-Muslim slogan painted on the premises of Hasan Khader shows intolerance at its worst.

Mr Khader, who comes from Jordan, has lived in the city for the past 15 years, and this hard-working citizen does not deserve such treatment. The one silver lining to the story is the way in which local people have rallied round to provide help. In a separate example of intolerance, the kerb stones outside Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, north Belfast, have been daubed with loyalist graffiti. This is an attempt to annoy and intimidate people in an area that has experienced great tensions over the years. Despite this, local relationships have been improving, and it is deeply regrettable that a small bunch of trouble-makers want to put the clock back.

And in yet another example of intolerance, someone has complained about an image of the Virgin Mary in a fake shop front at disused premises in Dungiven.

Sinn Fein blamed "bitter" participants at a recent Orange parade through the town for the complaint, but, as in many of these situations, it all depends on the eye of the beholder.

It is also sad how some people go well out of their way to take offence.

There is much talk from Stormont politicians about the need for respect and equality, but this cuts both ways. A bit more respect from both sides might bring a resolution to the talks, which is exactly what the general public needs.

Today marks the beginning of a month which is at the very heart of the marching season, and it is to be hoped that the Twelfth of July parades pass off peacefully - and, to be fair, the large majority of them do.

Northern Ireland still stands at the cross-roads of political and community progress.

We need all the respect and tolerance we can get - and from all sides - to make sure that this will be a memorable period for all the right reasons.

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