It is with great sorrow that I heard the news of the tragic outcome for the people taken hostage in Iraq.
Christianity has long and established roots in Iraq. In fact, there were Christians in Iraq well before there were any in the UK. It seems therefore paradoxical that after centuries of both faiths living together in relative harmony, violence and death have made the headlines again in Iraq.
Islam is the second largest religion in the UK and estimates place over 2 million Muslims living in the UK. My own city of Glasgow is home for over 30,000 Muslims, mostly of Pakistani origin and I am very proud to see that in my home town, there are ample examples of both Muslims and Christians actively working together to improve the living conditions of everyone in the city.
Take for example the work of the Multifaith Antipoverty Project where Christians and Muslims volunteers are being trained to become anti-poverty champions and within their communities; or the work of the Bridging the Gap project where Christian churches in conjunction with Muslim volunteers work together to provide services for refugees newly arriving to Glasgow; or the work of Faith in Community Scotland who work with members of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh communities to address issues of poverty and social inclusion in 38 of the poorest communities in Glasgow.
I strongly condemn interfaith violence. I believe that communities have a much better chance at getting to know each other if there are common issues that bind them. It is through working jointly on a common project and sharing common purposes that true communities and lasting friendships are built. May it always remain the case in Scotland.