Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

BBC Radio Scotland – Thought for the Day
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam
University College Cork, Ireland
Monday 29th October 2018

America is reeling from what is believed to be the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history, carried out during a baby naming ceremony at a Synagogue in Pittsburg.   It’s hard for us to imagine the pain and suffering caused to the Jewish community at this time and our thoughts are with them.  A friend of mine in the US asked yesterday whether it was now time to have armed guards at Churches and Synagogues. 

Throughout the six years I lived there, I could not understand the way in which guns are a part of American society. I experienced first hand the impact of a drive by shooting in Miami.  What I remember most is the way in which the community pulled together to heal and strengthen.   

We live in uncertain and distrusting times. Sadly these sentiments are now finding their way into popular politics in a way that can divide and cause great harm to communities.  I work in Ireland now and in the recent Irish presidential elections, one candidate made controversial comments about the traveller community.  It was interesting to see how different sections of Irish society made clear that such sentiments were not welcome. All over the world we see people struggling to find peaceful and respectful ways to live together. 

Building and strengthening understanding between people, where there is currently suspicion and a sense of difference, is a hard task.  There is much to do in bridging our religious and cultural divides.  It pushes me to reconsider concepts such as Jihad – sacred struggles, which in my view, are to uphold good and beauty in ourselves and the society we live in, to strengthen our bonds in pushing against hate for love.  But I recognize that there is not one shared understanding of Jihad.  We all have to find our own words and ways to counter hate crimes as we resolutely continue to build the conditions for a caring community.