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rev aftab gohar Church of Scotlandheader2.png
Church of Scotland
rev aftab gohar Church of Scotland.png
Church of Scotland
UK News

Church minister who forgave terrorists who killed his mum asks people to tolerate what they don't approve of

by Cara Bentley

A Church of Scotland minister has spoken in the Scottish parliament this week about the importance of tolerance and putting up with "something you do not approve".

Rev Aftab Gohar, who leads Abbotsgrange Parish Church, lost his mother, nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, aunts and friends in a suicide attack at his home church in Peshawar in Pakistan in 2013. 

The minister was invited to Holyrood to share his thoughts for the assembly's Time for Reflection segment on Tuesday. 

Addressing MSPs, Rev Gohar said mass killings could be avoided if people accept "everyone with all their differences".

His relatives were among 122 people killed in the terrorist attack. At the time, Rev Gohar said what they did was wrong but forgave them and prayed that they would learn that it was not right to kill innocent people.




He said that humanity needs to learn from the atrocities of the two World Wars and the Holocaust, something that he argued the world is currently failing to do: "Today, when we look around us, we can see a lot of mass killings throughout the world even today, especially in countries like Myanmar, Sudan, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, USA, Israel and Palestine, all on the basis of religion, colour, race and language.

"Have we ever thought about the cause of that hatred, fighting and killing? For me, the main reason for it is lack of tolerance. The word 'tolerance' means to allow something that you do not approve of, or to put up with something unpleasant. 

"In other words, to live with someone whose thoughts, religion, race, colour or language is different from ours. The problem is that many people judge others around them on the basis of their religion, race, colour, language, ability or disability. If we all learn this one word, 'tolerance,' we will be able to see real peace and harmony around us. The best and most appropriate alternative word for 'tolerance' is 'acceptance'. We need to accept others as they are and try to live with them peacefully."

Rev Gohar, who has served his congregation since 2010 also referenced Psalm 133 - 'How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony!'

He ended by saying: "Two world wars, the Holocaust and all the other mass killings are there to teach us that they are the worst examples of intolerance and inhumanity. We can avoid those events happening again in our time by accepting everyone, with all their differences. Those atrocities have happened and can happen again, so we must learn from our past and help our generation - and the next - to avoid any repeat of them in our time.

"May God bless us all. Amen."

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