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ireland, irish, ulster, ireland, irish, ulster, Sinn Féin, Irish America

Patronising Peter really lords it over the rest of us in Northern Ireland

(Suzanne Breen, Sunday Life)

In one simple sentence, Peter Robinson gave the game away. He showed his contempt for ordinary people generally by saying he'd trust Muslims to go to the shops or give him the right change.

What a way to look at the world. Robinson's language betrays a mindset that everybody outside his set is there to serve him. I thought this mentality disappeared centuries ago.

The First Minister must see himself as the lord of the manor looking for house-trained serfs. So Muslims are message boys.

What about the rest of us plebs? Might we be trusted to cut the grass, cook the dinner, or clean the toilets?

Robinson's remarks are reminiscent of the anti-Irish racism that once plagued Britain. Paddy's fine for building your house but don't let him across the door once it's up. And that applied to us all regardless of religious or political allegiance.

The DUP leader hadn't a clue how patronizing and arrogant he sounded. There was no voice in his head saying 'hold on a wee minute Peter' when he was in full flow.

When Martin McGuinness criticized him, he retorted, "I won't take lectures from a self-confessed leader of a bloody terrorist organisation." If that is how the First Minister still sees McGuinness, why is he in government with him?

Most amazingly, Robinson embraced the cult of victimhood. He complained that as a politician he suffered hostility and hatred.

So you're the most powerful person in Northern Ireland, earn a fortune, have chauffeurs, reside in a luxury villa, and you think you're in the same boat as a poor immigrant living in fear of a petrol bomb coming through the window and burning his kids alive?

The politics of the religious right is correctly coming under scrutiny here. But while highlighting the crude words of our Christian fundamentalists, it's important not to forget the cruel actions of Islamic fundamentalists in other parts of the world.

Farzana Parveen, aged 25 and pregnant, was last week stoned to death by 20 people outside a courthouse in Pakistan because she married a man against her family's wishes. The police did nothing as she screamed for help.

Also murdered in Pakistan was Anusha Zafar, just 15, whose parents threw acid over her for looking at a boy. Her mother said: "I told her it's wrong. She said 'I didn't do it on purpose, I won't look again.' By then I'd already thrown the acid. It was her destiny to die."

If we're principled, we must protest about the evils of religious fundamentalism wherever they appear.

June 2, 2014
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This article appeared in the June 1, 2014 edition of the Sunday Life.

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