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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Meeting of the Parliament 15 November 2016

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Point of Order, Single Market and Trade (European Union Referendum), Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, Business Motion, Decision Time, Women-led Business


Contents


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. Our first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection, for which our leader is Ms Frances Hume, who is development officer at Interfaith Scotland.

Ms Frances Hume (Interfaith Scotland)

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, I thank you for the opportunity to address you. I am particularly delighted to be able to address you during Scottish interfaith week, for which more than 50 events have been organised by local people, faith communities, interfaith groups, educational bodies and organisations, to promote and celebrate the multifaith and multicultural nature of Scottish society.

The theme of Scottish interfaith week this year is religion and the media. The media play an increasingly important role in people’s lives and many people are influenced by what they read, see and hear. Media reporting can have a powerful effect on attitudes in our society through its portrayal—positive and negative—of people of different faiths and ethnicities. This year, we are exploring how we can share the positive stories of faith and interfaith work and challenge negative reporting of and stereotypes about people of different faiths. That is ever more pertinent with some of the political rhetoric that has been heard in recent times on this island and overseas.

Although the people of Scotland can be heartened that fewer hate crimes were reported in Scotland as a result of the Brexit vote, we cannot be complacent in our continuing effort to create a Scotland in which mutual trust, respect and understanding form the basis of our relationships with others. I am reminded of the quotation that is attributed to Edmund Burke, that the only thing

“that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men”—

and women—

“to do nothing.”

We have just had remembrance Sunday and, as the collective living memory of the two world wars fades, I am struck that if we do not learn from our history, we may mindlessly repeat it.

Last week, the religious leaders of Scotland and members of Interfaith Scotland met the First Minister at an interfaith summit. We discussed how faith and interfaith engagement with young people contribute to community cohesion. I have witnessed how bringing people of different faiths into schools can reduce the demonising of “the other” and how that face-to-face contact and dialogue can turn potential enemies into friends.

I first became involved in interfaith dialogue when I attended an interfaith youth retreat on Holy Island off the coast of Arran. I found there a group of enthusiastic young people from all faiths who had a passionate commitment to making a positive difference in the world. I found that we are all interconnected and share common values. In that spirit, may we all challenge fears and suspicion when we see them, and become a positive and united force for change in society.