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This stereotyping of Muslims very insulting

WHEN David Ireland writes that he is "merely paraphrasing the words of the Koran" (Write Back, June 10), this is gross misrepresentation. In his letter of May 30 he claims that "Islam teaches the faithful adherents, directly via the Koran, to make war, slay, besiege and enslave Christians (and Jews) wherever they discover them".

He continues by stating, as if fact, that "the Koran's words are to be taken seriously by all Muslims (not a fringe extreme)".

In this he is misrepresenting what Muslims believe, smears them through stereotyping that would have all of us view every Muslim as being part of a monolithic collective that can neither think individually, nor hold dissenting views, nor differing interpretations of the Islamic faith.

Islam itself teaches a great many different things. You won't be able to know about the wider concepts within the Islamic faith if all you do is paraphrase a few sections without context.

It isn't 'Islam' that teaches the literal view of certain unpalatable verses, which are often paraphrased by Islamophobes during debate, but rather a minority of imams and radicalised extremists who don't represent Islam or the wider Muslim community. I've lived in the Middle East. I am good friends with many Muslims including academic scholars who've studied Islam all their lives. These people are as diverse in terms of how strictly they adhere to their faith as we are in the UK when it comes to Christianity.

GARY SPEDDING

Belfast

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