Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Andrew Cooper's Speech to MEND Event on 16/11/15 at Lockwood Park

I found about the Paris attacks on Twitter like  many people do these days and so this was my thoughts within the 140 character limit

Paris attacks are designed to push people of different backgrounds, races & religions apart so we must come together in unity & peace.  

What that means is that all of us have got to work harder to work across communities, so the edges are blurred , differences become less distinct and common concerns and similarities are emphasised

I’m a representative for the whole of Newsome Ward which includes communities of Lockwood, Longroyd Bridge and Springwood. For me that means I have to try harder to be more visible, more approachable, more available. Because when people feel they don’t have a stake in our institutions in our communities that can be the beginning of a slippery slope.

Our role as local Councillors has to be about advocacy for communities. So if there are concerns about council vehicles possible going over peoples graves then it is my job to get officers to address those concerns. If there are concerns about Mount Pleasant School moving to a new improved building then I will push hard to get progress It is all Councillors role, of whatever political colour, to help where there are issues and problems, because that shows that you don’t just care but will act. There are many examples where that is the case across the political spectrum.

Islamaphobia and radicalisation are 2 different problems. You could describe them as 2 sides of the same coin. Both are negative and both can both feed each other. We have to find ways of addressing them together.

Trying to control thought is, in my opinion, not the way we will address either Islamaphobia or radicalisation.  Our best approach to both is by encouraging questioning minds, critical thinking, taking nothing at face value. It almost certainly means that not reading the Daily Mail (and its ilk) is a good first step if you really want to leave Islamaphobia behind! Critical Thinking is also a challenge for politicians and governments who like simple answers to complex issues but it is also a challenge to those with malicious intent, who want to use simple arguments that put a gun in someones hand or make them leave our country on a dream that they find out is a nightmare far too late.

 Mainstream religions do not preach hate they preach love, respect for each other whatever our backgrounds. All have texts which can be knowingly misinterpreted, twisted to suit a malevolent purpose but those who do this have a purely political rather than a truly spiritual agenda. There is more that unites us than divides us.

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