Intolerance not what we're about

Much of the response to our article about a man's plea for religious accommodation in the AA program at New Life Mission is, sadly, what some of us in the newsroom predicted: if he doesn't like it, he can go back to where he came from.

One of the favoured phrases in the comments on our website is that he knows where the airport is - implying that because he's a Muslim, he must be an immigrant troublemaker. Another comment even tries to link him with terrorist groups - fulfilling another of our cynical predictions.

These kinds of responses make the airport look like a good destination. Maybe a bunch of us should charter a flight for a visit to Huntingdon, Quebec, where the mayor is going out of his way to attract Muslims with the promise of a mosque, a halal abattoir and a Muslim cemetery. He's gone to Montreal and prayed in mosques there as part of his recruitment drive. Why? Because the population of this small town has been plummeting, and immigrants are desperately needed to keep it viable.

Given the mentality expressed in some comments, our own mayor might find himself dealing with a lynch mob if he tried something similar.

But Kamloops is not so different from Huntingdon. We hope to attract students to TRU from Saudi Arabia. We try to bring in badly needed health care professionals, many of whom are Muslims. There may come a time when incidents like the one at the mission will have to be met with some sort of compromise. Because it will be in our best interests to make Muslims - not to mention people of all religions - feel welcome in our city if we want it to grow and prosper.

But we shouldn't let a few negative comments from anonymous people get us down. Kamloops has shown itself to be a tolerant and cosmopolitan community in many ways. International Days at TRU celebrates the diversity of students. Canada Day at Riverside Park is packed with delicious meals from around the world.

Kamloopsians have time and again dug deep to help people in need where disaster has struck. On Thursday, for example, the Italian community gathered to celebrate the 150 thanniversary of Italian unification - and to announce a fundraiser for earthquake-devastated Japan.

That's the kind of positive spirit we can build on. That's the kind of face the city can be proud of.

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News

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