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Omagh based Muslim doctor urges ‘everyone to be responsible’
A doctor from the Muslim faith, who moved to Omagh with his family three years ago, has requested “everyone to be responsible” when they make remarks about religious faiths.
Dr Nauaman Iftikhar from Pakistan, whose wife is also a doctor, works at the Tyrone County Hospital and has two children attending school locally and a baby of seven months.
He described Omagh as “a very good place to live” and the people he has met here as “very nice”. Thankfully neither him nor his family has encountered any abuse since moving to the area.
Dr Iftikhar’s comments come after the controversial sermon posted online from Pastor James McConnell of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in north Belfast denouncing the Muslim faith.
Police said they were investigating “a hate crime motive” after complaints about Mr McConnell’s initial remarks, made on May 18. He described Islam as “heathen” and “satanic”, and said he did not trust Muslims. Pastor McConnell’s speech was endorsed by the First Minister Peter Robinson.
Supporting the Pastor, Mr Robinson said he would not trust Muslims involved in violence or those devoted to Sharia law.
In a recorded interview he also stated he would “trust them to go to the shops” for him.
The comments of the First Minister and the Pastor have been relayed across the world with commentators suggesting it may affect inward investment into the North from Islamic counties. Mr Robinson received scathing criticism from politicians and public representatives with calls for his resignation.
The following day (Thursday) Mr Robinson met with representatives from the Muslim community. He said he would never “want to insult or cause distress” to Muslims in the North. The DUP leader also stated comments he made in support of remarks by Pastor McConnell were “misinterpreted.”
Omagh based Dr Iftikhar welcomed Mr Robinson’s clarification of his remarks.
He said, “I am satisfied with Mr Robinson’s explanation. Public representatives need to be responsible as should everyone. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions of different faiths. A person from a faith or community who does wrong does not reflect that entire people.
“Pastor McConnell’s comments were really disturbing because Islam is a religion of peace and most Muslims are peace loving and law abiding.
“Loyalty to home land and taking care of fellow human beings is prime duty of a Muslim. Some individual acts, if they are inhuman, illegal, immoral and destructive – they are individual acts, individual personality disorders, nothing to do with the peaceful Islam who talks of peace, love and universal brotherhood.”
Nick Cassidy from Omagh Ethnic Support Group said he is also “pleased” with the local record regarding racism.
He also voiced his support for Alliance MLA Anna Lo who has made clear her intention to step away from politics because of racial abuse and condemned the statements from Pastor McConnell regarding Muslims.
He said, “Anna Lo has made a massive contribution here and is a great supporter of our organisation. It would be dreadful if she resigns and is not supported by colleagues from other political parties.
“Political representatives need to show leadership. Racism is about peoples’ dignity and should not be used for political point scoring. The comments from Pastor McConnell were outrageous and it is disturbing that some politicians are not disturbed by them”.