Belfast Telegraph

Pastor James McConnell is clueless about Islam

The comments made by Pastor James McConnell about Islam are typical of Islamophobic cliches that have been regurgitated by conspiracy theorists.

During his interview with Stephen Nolan, Pastor McConnell did not support his allegations with one verse of the Koran, which reflects either his ignorance of Islam, or his knowledge that there is no Islamic text to substantiate his claims.

Perhaps it was the halal meat hysteria and the kidnapping in Nigeria that provoked these comments.

The idea that Muslims want to impose halal food on everyone is nonsense. Subway's decision to sell only halal meat in some places is purely a commercial one (to maximise profits in areas with large Muslim populations). Additionally, it happens that some stores import meat from New Zealand, which exports halal meat to Muslim countries.

Again, it makes sense, for commercial reasons, to slaughter animals the halal way, but I don't think British Muslims knew about it – let alone imposed it.

It is free-market capitalism that filled the market with halal meat – not a secret plot by Muslims.

The kidnapping in Nigeria contradicts the basic teachings of Islam.

The first word of the Koran revealed to the Prophet Mohammed was ikra (read in Arabic), which makes education an obligation for every Muslim.

Islam also prohibits harming civilians at all times.

Prophet Mohammed himself asked Muslims to treat women well. Blaming Islam for the acts of Boko Haram is no different to blaming Christianity for George Bush and Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq (which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Muslims), or the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, or the rape and murder of Bosnian Muslims by Christian Serbs.

The last thing Northern Ireland needs is a Christian supremacist.

Pastor McConnell's comments are offensive and will only stir up tension.

It is important that political and religious leaders speak out against such bigotry.

Mohammed Samaana is a freelance journalist based in Belfast

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