Sunday, 19th August 2018
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Religious Tolerance

At a public meeting last week to discuss the plans for a new mosque in Kilkenny, it seemed that out of the crowd of approximately 200 that attended, the overwhelming majority were against the idea. While it was reported that most people were against the addition of the mosque to Kilkenny life due to logistical reasons, it was also reported, and quite prominently, that there were more than a few people who were vocally opposed to the whole idea of a any sort of mosque being built on religious grounds.

One person was reported as saying that the whole area would turn into a new 'Mecca' and that it would bring in Muslims from all over the region and that that would be unacceptable. What is more unacceptable is that such an attitude should be given oxygen.

Ireland has developed enormously in the last number of decades. People have come here from all over the world and have helped develop the country to an inordinate degree. The economic benefit that this country has seen over the last number of years is in part down to the people that have come here to work and live here.

While there might be a number of people who are put out by the addition of so many new cultures to the make up of the country the fact remains that it has happened and that it has been overwhelmingly of benefit to the country. Part and parcel of having so many new people coming to the country is that we have to accept their cultures as much as they have to accept ours. That fact that they are a minority in Ireland speaks to how much they want to be here and how much they already accept living as a minority in Ireland and all that that entails.

To say, as someone did in Kilkenny, that people should just accept everything that this country might say that they have to isn't enough and just isn't right. The idea that someone isn't allowed to fully practise their own religion should be anathema to any right thinking person in Ireland.

The fact that so many people turned out and so many people spoke out against the building of a new mosque should be a cause for concern. Some people might have legitimate reasons, it is not just going to be a new mosque but also a community centre, a library as well as a cafe - a substantial development that will pump millions of euros into the local economy. It seems that no one mentioned that either.

It will be interesting to see how this story develops and it will also be interesting to think how such a development would be welcomed, or not, here in Waterford.

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