March 31, 2015

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An unprecedented meeting of senior figures from the major faiths in Ireland has taken place at the Terenure Synagogue Hall in Dublin, as religious representatives gathered for a meal together. The event was organised by the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland.

Among the 30 guests were  were Shaykh Dr. Umar Al-Qadri from the Blanchardstown Mosque,  Dr Nooh Al-Kaddo and Shaheen Ahmed of the Clonskeagh mosque, Sheikh Yahya Al-Hussein of the South Circular Rd mosque, Dr Ali Al-Saleh of the Milltown mosque, Dr Ihab Ahmad of the Cork City mosque, Rabbi Zalman Lent, leader of Ireland’s Hebrew congregation, and Leonard Abrahamson, president of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland.

Also were present papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson, retired Church of Ireland primate Alan Harper, Rev Dr Alan Martin and Dr Sam Hutchinson of the Presbyterian Church, and Dr Andrew Doughtery of theMethodist Church

‘Deepen understanding’

Greeting all, “but most especially representatives of the Muslim faith in Ireland”, Jewish Representative Council chair Maurice Cohen said: “This evening we hope that the space we make at our table will be symbolic of our genuine desire to deepen the understanding between Jews and our Muslim and Christian friends .”

Mr Cohen said that while the group tended to bump into each other at civic ceremonies, “we do not really know one another well enough to stand together in times of crisis”.

“In sitting down this evening we cannot ignore the fact that recent years have seen significant physical turmoil in all faiths . . . particularly in the Middle East and Africa. Much of this turmoil is done in the name of religion, with God’s name being hijacked for the purpose.”

Mr Cohen said that for people in Ireland “to be of any help, I feel we need to focus . . . on creating a unity of purpose in the minds of people. This means that room needs to be made by people and not just for people”.

“We must see what happened in the not-so-distant 1920s and 1930s in Europe.

“We must be aware that what happened then is bubbling to the surface in many other countries. We have seen the rise of anti-Semitism throughout Europe. In its wake, we have a rise in Islamophobia.”

Mr Cohen said that what is required is “a paradigmatic shift of thinking in Ireland”.

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