The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

The infidel in us

Victor Calleja Sunday, 24 March 2019, 09:00 Last update: about 5 months ago

Christchurch, New Zealand and Malta; somewhat unconnected and maybe, as we are in most things, rather unperturbed.

Fifty Muslims were brutally killed while they were at prayer. Killed by a man who seems like a raving lunatic but supposedly a Christian who wanted to defend our way of life.

This is definitely not what Christians want because surely no true loving, forgiving Christian wants bloodshed especially in a place ironically called Christchurch, and certainly not while the worshippers lay prostrate in prayer to their God.

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Most people the world over have declared their conviction that the killer was definitely not truly aware of the inclusive religion he purportedly embraces.

But when the killer is a raving lunatic who believes in Allah and cries out Allah hu Akbar all Muslims become bad. All Islam becomes mired in blood.

Those who declare their love for Jesus Christ, those who regularly receive the body and blood of the Eucharist, are often the ones who claim that all Muslims, or most of them, or quite a lot of them, are bad: because it’s written in the Quran.

They quote the Quran – I know very little of it so I am ignorant of all its contents – as saying that if you die for Islam, you go straight to heaven and you are given a whole load of virgins in recompense.

Even if such words are in the Quran, how many have read and heard during Mass that God and his Bible pulverised all enemies and proclaimed ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’?

The devout Muslim-haters say that is the Old Testament. The New Testament preaches love, tolerance and inclusivity, definitely not revenge.

If we think this is not a problem here in Malta – that many devout Christians hate anyone who is Muslim – all we have to do is read, hear and see what goes on around us all the time.

It is not enough to say how sad we are that Muslims were killed at Christchurch. We need to kill the horror of hate.

A short time ago, I heard Mass in a tiny chapel in Sliema. The congregation was, as has become usual, mainly of an advanced age like me or older. There were a few younger ones too looking after, or accompanying their parents. The congregation was mainly from Sliema.

The priest, in his homily, said that he has a Muslim friend. He said that this friend mocks him about the confession process: the Muslim said he finds it unacceptable that we Catholics can sin, go to a priest, confess and receive absolution as if nothing was ever committed.

The priest then thundered this horror: “better than you, you Muslims who blow up people and never ask forgiveness” he quoted himself telling the Muslim friend.

I feel disgusted even quoting this – that a priest who represents Jesus Christ said this abominable thing in a church. Yet what was even more terrible was that none of us – yes, even I am guilty – stood up and told the priest not to preach racism and hatred, or to sod off. The only thing I did was race out of the church – but that was not enough.

Wherever and whenever hatred is spewed, we need to stop it from wherever it comes. I did not even report such gross behaviour to the priest’s superiors. So I too am part of this acceptance of inner hate for Muslims by not challenging words from a cleric on a church pulpit, which are heard and taken as proper and acceptable.

Saying how sad we are that blood was spilt is not enough. We need to stop the hatred, learn tolerance and understand that evil is not confined to one race, religion or gender.

Evil – and the acceptance of evil even in small doses – is in all of us, Christian, western or otherwise. Teaching religion at school, any religion, is useless unless we impart, practise and see that tolerance of others is what should guide us in life.

Deep inside us, or at least in many of us, there is a fear that the Infidel is still lurking around, trying to subvert our way of life, take over our land and destroy our Christianity.

Until we kill that demon inside us, we will never be truly inclusive and forgiving no matter how many times we receive Holy Communion, listen to homilies, pound our chests or express our horror at the innocent blood spilt in New Zealand.

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