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City of Banjul
Sunday, February 28, 2021

Say no to bigotry and yes to tolerance

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Every faith and ideology on this earth desires the good of all creatures. Even those seemingly violent ideologies, promote violence as a means to a good end. Of course the end cannot justify such evil means, but it illustrates the fact that men are by nature lovers of good. Tolerance is a virtue that is taught in all the scriptures that the major religions of the world profess belief and conviction in. So the issue of intolerance we can safely say stem from men trying to use religion in their evil machinations to further their own selfish interests. And this is what has gripped the world today.

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We see the increase of religious intolerance daily. From Myanmar to the Central African Republic, the flame is being fanned and apart from empty rhetoric we see hardly anything being done to eradicate this menace. So it is becoming a part of our daily reality to hear thousands slaughtered for their beliefs and many others condemned to a life of misery. And unless we face it and try to deal with it, the cancerous tumour of intolerance will only grow more malignant.

 

At the root of this problem is of course the need for a sound interpretation of religious text. Most of the people going on to become extremists and intolerant people derive their so-called proofs from the scriptures of the religions they follow. So it becomes a binding duty upon the scholars of those traditions to stand up and intellectually refute those narrow-minded interpretations of the classical teachings. 

 

Islam, for example, encounters these types of scholars who use the Qur’an and the sunnah to justify their perverted goals. The current movement that defines the landscape of the Islamic scholarly elites is very weak. They see this demon growing stronger everyday but do very little to refute it and bring back the great teachings that characterise the path of Prophet Muhammad.

 

As for the political bigotry and prejudice that dominate much of the world, it will only be solved when we realise that political differences are the outcome of a diverse society. The diversification of the people will, by necessity, bring about different political leanings and followings. Through understanding that, we will come to terms and then move towards a cohesive nation building process. And the various governments and political parties need to put it on their programmes to educate their followers on the need for tolerance. It’s their civic duty to educate people on this if we are to have a society that can endure and live in peace and harmony.

 

The intellectuals, religious scholars, politicians are called upon to execute this idea. To promote the spirit of tolerance in this already volatile age is indispensable to the perseveration of our world- to encourage the need to accommodate all shades of opinions and ideas. The drive to development and lasting peace would only be a romantic novelty if we don’t promote this one ideal. The foundations of a civilised society rest upon the initiative of diversification embedded in a harmonious setup, and this is not possible without a tolerant people.

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