Wednesday, 24 May 2017

"Islam is not a religion of peace,"

he told me.
I went out to get our paper a couple of hours ago. It was still dark but one of our almost neighbours, a man I only know by sight, spoke to me as he walked to catch a bus to work.
He startled me, not because I didn't see him coming. I did. It wasn't because he hasn't spoken to me before. He has. I speak to his wife when I see her out and about. We have met in the library where I have found books for them and helped occasionally with her English.
This morning he stopped for just a moment and said to me, "How can I go to work this morning knowing what has been done?"
He's Muslim.
I could barely see his face in the darkness but his voice sounded worried and miserable. It has been hard enough for them here. They have barely enough to live on. He is studying and working part time. His constant worry is that he will lose his job - and thus the means to support his wife and three year old son. They are homesick. 
I feel for them. 
He has never spoken about his religion before. I have talked to his wife about it, just a little. It's a topic I suppose I am wary of because it can so easily lead to arguments, bitter and angry arguments. 
But this morning this man, a man I barely know, stopped and told me his religion is not a religion of peace. How to respond to that. I responded as I felt and said, "No, it isn't - but that doesn't mean you are like that. I hope the people you work with will understand that."
He nodded and said, "Thank you for that" and then walked on.
I wonder what will happen to him today. Will his work colleagues support or condemn him? 
I hope they support him but, knowing where he works, it will be a difficult day for him. The man who blew himself up and killed and maimed so many others never knew the young man who had to face his Christian colleagues, the people who have given him a job and housing and the opportunity to eventually go home and rebuild his country. 
No, Islam is not a religion of peace. It is at war with everything, including itself.

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