Scots minister whose mother was killed by terrorists forgives those responsible

A minister has spoken of how his mother and close relatives were killed in a terrorist suicide attack, as he made an emotional address to MSPs.

Aftab Gohar addressed MSPs today

Rev Aftab Gohar, Abbotsgrange Church in Grangemouth, said his 79-year-old mother, nephew, niece, two uncles and other friends and relatives were among 122 people killed seven years ago at their Christian church.

He made the revelation as he delivered the Time for Reflection slot at Holyrood and has forgiven those responsible for the attacks on his family.

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There had been a “long chain” of killing across the world through terrorism, he said.

“Personally, I have experienced the loss of my mum, nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, aunts and friends in a double suicide attack at my home church in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2013,” he said.

“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 this hatred, fighting and killing? For me the main reason for this is lack of tolerance.”

Mr Gohar said the word tolerance means to “allow something you do not approve of or to put up with something unpleasant”.

“The problem is many people judge others around them on the basis of their religion, race, colour, language, ability or disability," he added.

“If we all learn this one word ‘tolerance’, then we can see a real peace and harmony around us. “

Mr Gohar, who has served his congregation since 2010, said the best and appropriate alternative word for tolerance is acceptance .

“We need to accept others as they are and try to live with them, peacefully,” he added.

“These 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.”