This year the first event, on Monday, was in Auchmuty School Glenrothes where members of Fife Interfaith Group and other Faiths sat on a panel to be questioned by the year 3, 4 & 5 pupils. After a lively session with the pupils asking questions to all membersof the panel, the panel were able to go round the tables and speak to pupils individually, which again spurred more debate and questions.  All participants were rather sad when the event had to finish, as the pupils were genuinely interested in finding out about different faiths and it is very much hoped that this type of event can recur in future Scottish Interfaith Weeks.

Later that day, members of the Fife Interfaith Group went to the St Brycedale Campus of Fife College for the unveiling of a Peace Sculpture which had been inspired by Fife Interfaith Group who visited the school in 2016 and spoke about the Interfaith Peace Garden in Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy.  The sculpture sits in the Foyer of the College Campus and was designed by the pupils themselves.  The designers and constructors of the Sculpture were introduced and delightfully the number of flags of the world fixed on the sculptor represented all the different nationalities of students who attended the College in 2016 (numbered over 50 – quite the achievement for a college in Scotland!)

On Tuesday night in New Volunteer House – Kirkcaldy, a talk was given by Sid Akbar (photographed) of Tell MAMA; a group formed to keep records of attacks against Muslims in the UK concerning Islamophobia.  It was a very interesting talk; most terrorist incidents are caused by right-wing groups, but it is the Islamic attacks that attract the most attention and subsequent anti-Muslim feelings are stirred up.  One of the leaders of a British Right Wing Group made $2m last year from his “Hate” Campaigns and when asked if his anti-Muslim rants could mention “some Muslims” as opposed to “all Muslims” he  was not interested in changing his stance. Incidents against Muslims on the street are unfortunately on the rise and quite often South Asian or even just those with a darker skin tone are targeted as they are perceived to be Muslim. While Sid acknowledged that terrorism by so-called Muslims was an issue, he pointed out that actual terrorist attacks were carried out by just 0.06% of the Muslim population in the world.

On Friday night Fife Interfaith Group presented their 7thAnnual Interfaith Lecture which was given by Lesley Laird MP who is Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland.  The lecture was presented in the Old Kirk, Kirkcaldy.  Lesley gave a very interesting talk concerning the decline in religious observance – although a third of people no longer believe in God, the majority still believe in a God and instead of attending Church, prefer to believe in their own way. Also, people with faith in a cause have been known to move mountains, examples of which include the Suffragette movement and political earthquakes. Indeed, the election of President Trump was a symptom and not the cause of upheavals in the USA. However, it’s also important to acknowledge recent elections returning a Native American Governor and 100 women being elected to the Senate, the youngest of which being 29.   The power of Faith must never be underestimated.  There has been a rise in Left-Wing anarchy and Far-Right extremism. We have to keep the Faith and share our values across the world. 

Frank Bowness – Chair of Fife Interfaith Group