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All sectarianism and racism must be condemned

MUCH has been reported on the utterances of a Belfast pastor and his attitude towards Muslims.

Perhaps it is appropriate to recall the chilling words of the German pastor Martin Niemoller, who spent seven years in a concentration camp for his outspoken public opposition to Adolf Hitler.

He wrote: "First, they came for the socialists and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me."

These words are a reminder that, wherever there is any sign of xenophobic utterances, people cannot remain silent but must come out and make their position very clear. Any response which appears to endorse racism, or sectarianism, towards any group of people is totally unacceptable – particularly when that person is in a position of responsibility.

JOHN DALLAT (SDLP)

MLA for East Londonderry

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