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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 18 December 2018

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, European Union Exit Preparations, Conduct of Reviews and Inquiries, Damages (Investment Returns and Periodical Repayments) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Decision Time, Fife Alcohol Support Service


Contents


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. Our first item of business is time for reflection, and our leader is Robin Downie, former moderator of the youth assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Mr Robin Downie (Former Moderator of the Youth Assembly of the Church of Scotland))

Presiding Officer, members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

In August last year, I had the privilege of attending a year of young people trip to Rwanda, which was organised by Interfaith Scotland and the Church of Scotland. Having little knowledge of the Muslim faith and not much of a clue about the importance of interfaith dialogue, I was a little apprehensive about the trip, to say the least. The group was formed of five young Christians and five young Muslims. We travelled to Rwanda to explore interfaith relations and the 1994 genocide.

There were many highlights of the trip. I experienced Muslim worship for the first time at Kigali national football stadium, where 20,000 Muslims met to celebrate the first day of the Eid festival. During the trip, I became close friends with many Muslims, and I was warmed by the love that shone through their faith, as well as by the many similarities in what we believed, of which there were more than differences.

Exploring the 1994 genocide, we travelled up into the hills of Rwanda, where we met a group of people who were affected by the genocide. Some had lost loved ones and seen their children murdered with machetes, yet on the day that we met them, they sat next to the men and women who had held the machetes. Many had been able to forgive the terrible events that had happened 24 years ago.

In January, I visited Israel and Palestine, and had a short visit to Gaza. It was upsetting to see the divides in that land, as well as the unrest and violence. I visited a centre in Ramallah for young people who are my age. It was run by young women of the Young Women’s Christian Association, the aim of which is to find a brighter future for the young people of Ramallah. When asked about the future of Israel and Palestine, only four members of the class of 30 were hopeful that the situation would improve for the generations to come.

Reflecting on those trips, I was sad that, having seen such unity and forgiveness in Rwanda, despite the terrible events that happened there, I then saw such unrest and violence in Israel and Palestine.

The love that I was shown by members of the Muslim faith was inspiring. The trips highlighted the importance of interfaith dialogue overseas and in Scotland. By meeting with people of different faiths and beliefs, we can build friendships and work together, despite our differences. We can challenge some of the major problems in the world, such as climate change, and we can prevent wars. Through dialogue, we can secure a brighter future for young people around the world and here in Scotland.