Sunday 15 January 2017

Scottish Bishop ‘Deeply Distressed’ Over Backlash Against Muslim Speaker At Service


Police are investigating online abuse aimed at a cathedral in Glasgow after a Muslim student was invited to read a passage from the Koran at a service over the Christmas period.

St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral received “offensive messages on Facebook and other platforms”, it said in a statement.

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, posted a blog in which he said he was “deeply distressed” at the response to the Muslim speaker.

He said that the church would continue to work to develop interfaith relations.

On the feast of the Epiphany, the traditional twelfth day of Christmas on 6 January, St Mary’s invited local Muslims to attend the service.

The Epiphany marks the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

Not the son of god

Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet but not as the son of God, and Madinah Javed, a local student, read a passage from the Koran about the birth of Christ in Arabic at the service.

The passage included the Islamic teaching that Jesus should not be worshipped.

The incident drew condemnation from some Anglicans. The Scottish Episcopal Church is a Scottish branch of the Anglican communion, which also includes the Church of England.

The Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, said: “Christians should know what their fellow citizens believe and this can include reading the Koran for themselves, whether in the original or in translation. This is not, however, the same thing as having it read in Church in the context of public worship.”

“The authorities of the Scottish Episcopal Church should immediately repudiate this ill-advised invitation and exercise appropriate discipline for those involved.”

Respect between the faiths

In the church Primus’s statement, he called for respect between the faiths as he expressed regret about the online response to the Muslim speaker.

“Over many years, we have sought to develop friendship, understanding and mutual respect between our Christian faith and the other great world religions. This work, like all works of reconciliation, must be founded on truth,” he said.

“We approach others with open hearts but we stand in the truth of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Police Scotland confirmed it was investigating the messages the church received.

“Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of hate and encourages all communities to take action to ensure no-one feels threatened or marginalised,” a spokeswoman said.



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