An Irish bishop has denounced “small political groups” trying to “stir up fear and suspicion between Muslims and Christians”.
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The Catholic bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Alphonsus Cullinan, was reacting to reports that protesters at a rally in Dublin last weekend gave Nazi salutes.
“Free speech” demonstrations have been ongoing at Google’s headquarters in the Irish capital after the tech giant suspended the YouTube account of politician Gemma O’Doherty, who in a video criticised Ireland’s ethnic minorities.
Chinese-Irish Dublin councillor Hazel Chu – herself the target of online hate – attended a counter-protest a week ago and said she was “shocked” to see the Nazi salutes.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Bishop Cullinan said he too was “absolutely shocked” by the Nazi gestures.
“It is offensive, negative and a backward step. That is not what people of decent morals and values want”, the bishop made clear.
“We can see unfortunately around the world that there are small political groups trying to stir up fear and suspicion and this is causing divisions in society which is not good”, Cullinan continued.
“It is when there is no dialogue that fear and suspicion begins to grow and this is where terrorists and extremists and the tiny minority who don’t want peace begin to stir up these fears”, the bishop explained, adding to avoid confrontation “dialogue is essential”.
Cullinan recalled that there are many Muslims “living in total peace” in his diocese.
He said these Muslims are “getting to know us and we are getting to know them. We share a common humanity and see that we are all struggling through life and we need to help each other”.
The bishop also had stern words for those anti-migrant campaigners who use Christian symbols to justify their message.
“This is not the way of Christ. Christ is a man of peace”, Cullinan declared.