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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament 18 February 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Social Prescribing, Minister and Junior Minister, Decision Time, Gaelic-medium Education (Western Isles)


Contents


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon and welcome back, everyone. Our first item of business is time for reflection. Our leader today is the Rev Aftab Gohar, who is from Abbotsgrange church, Grangemouth, and who is wing chaplain for the west Scotland wing of the Air Training Corps.

The Rev Aftab Gohar (Abbotsgrange Church, Grangemouth, and Wing Chaplain for the West Scotland Wing of the Air Training Corps)

Good afternoon, Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament. I would like to thank you for inviting me to address the Parliament.

Psalm 133 says:

“How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony!”

Last month, we commemorated international Holocaust memorial day in our churches and schools, and each November we commemorate armistice day and remembrance Sunday, when we remember the lives lost in two world wars.

We have examples of the many wars and genocides that have been carried out throughout the world in the past few decades. They are the worst examples of mass killing. There is also a long chain of killing through terrorism. Personally, I experienced the loss of my mum, nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, aunts and friends in a double suicide attack at my home church in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2013. Even today, when we look around us, we can see a lot of mass killings throughout the world, especially in countries such as Myanmar, Sudan, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, the USA, Israel and Palestine, all on the basis of religion, colour, race or language.

Have we ever thought about the cause of that hatred, fighting and killing? For me, the main reason for it is lack of tolerance. The word “tolerance” means to allow something that you do not approve of, or to put up with something unpleasant. In other words, to live with someone whose thoughts, religion, race, colour or language is different from ours. The problem is that many people judge others around them on the basis of their religion, race, colour, language, ability or disability. If we all learn this one word—tolerance—we will be able to see real peace and harmony around us. The best and most appropriate alternative word for “tolerance” is “acceptance”. We need to accept others as they are and try to live with them peacefully.

Two world wars, the Holocaust and all the other mass killings are there to teach us that they are the worst examples of intolerance and inhumanity. We can avoid those events happening again in our time by accepting everyone, with all their differences. Those atrocities have happened and can happen again, so we must learn from our past and help our generation—and the next—to avoid any repeat of them in our time.

May God bless us all. Amen.