They never bothered me. Every Saturday evening they gather in a place just a couple of streets behind my house and pray, somewhat loudly. Why not? This is at 7.00 in the evening, we’re all allowed to make some noise. They spend a couple of ours praising God. Being agnostic doesn’t mean that I’m against freedom of worship. Far from that. To be honest I actually admire they way they regularly commit themselves towards what they believe in.

 

Yet, last Saturday, for the first time the singing and clapping did bother me. Mind you, the worshippers did nothing wrong, and they have nothing to blame if I was bothered.

 

The reason for getting annoyed was the fact that I remembered the fuss that was created a couple of weeks ago because a group of Muslims decided to praise God in public. Like the worshippers in my neighbourhood, the Muslims obtained a Police license and prayed during acceptable hours (as regards noise).

 

Yet their prayers MADE NEWS. The fact that they prayed in public was a news item on the Times of Malta at least twice. Worse still, on the online version of the times it was one of the most commented issues. To be fair, more than 50% of those putting comments, stated there was nothing wrong about this and that we are making a fuss out of nothing.

 

However the problem is not this. WHY SHOULD THE FACT THAT A GROUP OF PEOPLE LEGALLY EXERCISING THEIR RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE AND WORSHIP BE NEWSWORTHY? I’m not blaming the Times, far from that. The goal of the newspaper is profit and if many readers find this newsworthy they did their job and delivered the news.

 

May I ask why Catholic worshippers, no matter whether they pray in public or make noise are never on the news? The answer is obvious – they are only doing what the law entitles them to do. Yet, saying ‘praise the Lord Jesus’ is acceptable, even admirable, but saying ‘Allah hu Akbar’ sends shivers down some people’s spine.

 

I think I’ve made my point, but would like to add something more. The fear of Muslims, especially after 9/11 is having an effect on quite some Maltese. However, if things were like some want us to believe, isn’t it strange that the main stakeholder – the Catholic Church – not only refraining from discriminating and passing vicious comments, but collaborating with the Muslim church.

 

Am I asking too much, from this society that unless the law is broken, a group of people who decide to assemble and pray can do so at peace?

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