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Scottish faith leaders unite in calls to tackle poverty

by Press Association

A joint statement from Scottish faith communities, signed by representatives from Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic faiths, declares a "moral responsibility" to address the problem.

Published at the end of Challenge Poverty Week, the show of unity and solidarity from leaders of different religions calls for more action to "tackle the rising tide of poverty."

The message is directed to both the UK and Scottish governments, in addition to local authorities, and states: "It is not right that so many people are trapped in poverty.

"We have a moral responsibility to change this.

"Challenge Poverty Week is a chance to raise our voices and highlight what we can do as a society to loosen the grip of poverty."

The 15 signatories of the statement include the Archbishop Emeritus of the Roman Catholic Church Mario Conti, Glasgow Central Mosque Immam Maulana Habib Ur Rehman Moderator of the Church of Scotland Rev Colin Sinclair, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Revd Mark Strange, Chair of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society Shabir Beg; Interfaith representative for the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities Alan Kay and Hindu Priest Acharya Ji Mishra.

Rev Strange said: "I am very aware that across Scotland, many families and individuals are continually living lives of struggle and stress as they find it impossible to reconcile the needs of their children and loved one with the limited resources that they can gather in.

"These are people who struggle to find work and those who are working but receive too little income to cover costs, all this in one of the worlds' richest countries.

"We need a more equal society where no one needs to go to bed hungry or to wake fearful of what the day will bring."

Explaining how the Challenge Poverty Week coincided with the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev ji - the founder of the Sikh religion - Ravinder Nijjar from the Scottish Sikh Women's Association said: "We remember his legacy of Langar, that is, feeding the poor and the hungry.

"Over 500 years ago he carried out one selfless act. As a young man, the Guru was given twenty rupees by his father to buy goods and sell at a profit.

"On seeing holy men who were hungry, the young Guru used the money to feed and clothe them. This investment according to Guru Nanak Dev Ji was true profit or business, Sacha Saudha.

"Using money to feed and clothe the hungry yields the highest profit."

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