Muslim Community Lobby Ireland is an independent organization established 1st May 2007. Its motto is TO USE THE VOTE RIGHTLY AND TO RAISE THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY AWARNESS WITH THEIR RIGHTS AND TO PROMOTE TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF OTHER EXISTING GROUPS. لترشيد استعمال الصوت الانتخابي ولتوعية وتعريف المسلمين بحقوقهم في ايرلندا وان يعيشوا بتفهم للواقع وللجماعات الاخرى الموجودة على الساحة

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Muslims shocked to learn that crisps contain alcohol

From The Times
February 22, 2008
Muslims shocked to learn that crisps contain alcohol
Valerie Elliott, Consumer Editor

Senior Muslim figures have said that they are shocked that a number of Walkers snacks contain traces of alcohol and eating them is therefore against their religion.A tiny amount of alcohol is used in some products as a chemical agent to extract flavour.The use of alcohol was discovered by Besharat Rehman, who owns a halal supermarket in Bradford, and reported in the Eastern Eye. Mr Rehman said: “Our suppliers were unaware of the alcohol. Walkers must make it clear on the packaging so customers can make an informed choice.”Shuja Shafi, who chairs the food standards committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that he intended to investigate. “Certainly we would find it very offensive to have eaten food with alcohol.”Masood Khawaja, of the Halal Food Authority, said that it had raised labelling issues and alcohol flavouring with Walkers before. “They should have looked into the matter and solved it instead of hiding behind labelling regulations. It does not matter what percentage of alcohol is involved.”However, a Walkers consumer care team representative was unapologetic. She said: “There is not enough room on the packaging to list things beyond allergy-causing ingredients that can make people ill. A minimal amount of alcohol is used to extract the flavour of some crisps.”Snacks that are likely to be boycotted by Muslims are Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli, Doritos Chilli Heat Wave and Quavers Cheese.
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Related Links
Parents force halal u-turn
Kit-kats, Yorkies and other contraband products

Monday, February 25, 2008

Irish Muslims at a Crossroads (Part One)

Irish Muslims at a Crossroads (Part One) By Idris Tawfiq British Writer

The first wave of Muslims came for higher education, notably to study medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.Although the roots of Islam in the Republic of Ireland can indeed be traced further back, the visits of Muslim trading ships in the 1950s triggered the real presence of Muslims in Ireland. This in itself is interesting because, unlike the presence of Muslim minorities in other European countries, the arrival of Muslims to Ireland was not connected with citizens from former colonies as in Britain and France, or with labor agreements signed after World War II as in Austria and Germany to which many Turks moved in search for work.Unlike the large numbers of underprivileged and undereducated Muslims who are now the feature of Islam in many European countries, the Muslims who came to Ireland were of an altogether different type. In a sense, then, there is a parallel here with the growth of Muslim communities in the US and Canada.
Illustrious Immigrants
The first wave of Muslims came for higher education, notably to study medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. Students initially came from South Africa, and further students began to arrive from Malaysia and the Gulf States. Once they had graduated, many of these students stayed on and took Irish citizenship, becoming valued professionals within the Irish community. In 1959, these students founded the Dublin Islamic Society, which grew and grew until it became the Islamic Foundation of Ireland.
In the 1970s, large numbers of Muslim doctors came to practice medicine, and there was also an influx of trainees in aircraft engineering from Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia. So, the foundations of a Muslim presence in Ireland were based on a usefulness to the state. Although many Irish citizens could look upon these foreigners as having strange backgrounds and unfamiliar religious beliefs, they could nonetheless appreciate the contributions they were making.
Ireland has a very small population of about 4.2 million people. Any increase, then, in doctors and trained professionals would have a "felt" positive effect on the nation as a whole. Since Ireland became a member of the European Community, its economy has boomed and there have been significant improvements and much progress in many areas. Along with this boom, though, there have been two other significant developments: the decline in religious practice among the Irish in general and the huge increase in the number of Muslims.

Census of Irish Muslims
According to the official census of 1991, there were less than 4,000 Muslims in Ireland. In the official census of 2006, this number grew to over 30,000. The problem for many Irish is that this huge increase in numbers has not been of doctors and trained professionals. Rather, it has been of refugees and asylum seekers who fled for their lives from many of the world's war-ravaged areas and gave a whole new flavor to Islam in Ireland.
The first group of Muslim refugees came from Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, seeking solace from the carnage and destruction of the civil war back home. At first, 350 refugees arrived, and they were later followed by military personnel (those injured in the war) and the families of the refugees. At present, there are about 1,200 Bosnian Muslims living in the Republic of Ireland.
The second group of Muslim refugees came from Somalia. While not a large number (only 100 people), these Somali Muslims added to the new makeup of Ireland's Muslim community, with all the resulting negativity that nationalists and bigots can throw at any minority. There are also still about 1,100 Muslims from Kosovo living in the Republic of Ireland. They came as late as 1999 to escape from the war there.
As well as the refugees, the numbers of the Muslim community were swelled even more by about 3,500 official asylum seekers who came to live in Ireland from Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria, Libya, Iraq, and Egypt. From 4,000 in 1991, the numbers of Muslims in Ireland have increased after the addition of 6,000 refugees and asylum seekers, which seriously altered the makeup of the Muslim community.

Islamophobic Prejudice
Muslims believe that Islam is the natural religion of humankind and that it has existed since the beginning of time. Its members cover the whole globe and look upon one another as brothers and sisters, regardless of their country of origin. For Ireland's Muslims, then, the addition of significant numbers of other brothers and sisters was a blessing, not a problem. If anything, it has meant that the state has had to take into account Muslim ideas and sensitivities because Islam is now a bigger player on the Irish stage. For those who are not Muslim, though, there is a potential problem.
Ireland's Muslims have always been moderate in outlook, well able to integrate into the mainstream of the Irish society, and demonstrative of their belonging to both Islam and Ireland. Yet, the recent years have seen an increase (albeit small at the moment) in Islamophobia and verbal and physical attacks on Muslims, often fueled by more sensational media reporting.
There is a parallel here, once more, with the US and Canada, where recent months have seen politicians and others beginning to point fingers in the direction of the Muslim community, where fingers had not been previously pointed. Ordinary citizens pick up on this media attention, and the seeds of trouble begin to be sown.

On the Edge of Change
The other background against which Irish Muslims find themselves is that of declining religious practice in the country as a whole. The Irish Constitution of 1937 recognized the special position of the Roman Catholic Church. The majority of the people were Catholic. The voice of the Church would be neglected at the peril of those who neglected it. The Constitution also recognized Protestants and Jews, but Islam was not mentioned because there were no Muslims. The Constitution was changed in 1972, and the whole article about the special position of Roman Catholicism was abolished. In this sense, Islam is now as much recognized as any other religion, because none is mentioned in particular.
Alongside constitutional change came a change in the mindset of many Irish Catholics who no longer looked to the Church for guidance. Their views on divorce and abortion came to be in direct contrast to Church teachings. Numbers attending the Church have seriously declined in recent years.
Given all this, then, the growth of Islam at the heart of what was once perhaps the most Catholic country in the world has been too much for some. They see Islam as foreign to their way of life and a threat to many of the values they hold dear.
Muslims in Ireland are poised for a changing role. It is for Muslims there to grasp the chance they have been given or to throw it away. They can retreat into ethnic and cultural groups, as has happened in many other countries of Europe, shunning contact with non-Muslims and mainstream society. This will bring with it all the accusations against Muslims of not being really wholehearted citizens and not having the best interests of Ireland at heart. Or they can immerse themselves into a society in need of God.

People of Faith
This does not mean for one minute to give up anything of what it means to be Muslim. It does not mean submitting to those secular forces that have no place for religion and spirituality in the Irish society either. Those groups gloat over any division they see among the religious people, and it is for Muslims and others to challenge such ideas wherever they find them. Muslims should hold fast to the rope of Allah and extend their hands to other people of faith within the island of Ireland.
People of faith have so much in common. Islam is not a threat to any community or to any other faith. Indeed, no one should ever feel threatened by goodness wherever it is. By being strong in faith and faithful to prayer, the Muslims of Ireland have so much to offer to their nation. Hopefully, they will seize this chance.
What do you think of the current state of Irish Muslims?
How can they make the best of their existence in Ireland?
In your opinion, is there any other obstacle that Irish Muslims encounter?
Idris Tawfiq is a British writer who became a Muslim in 2000. For many years, he was head of religious education in different schools in the United Kingdom. Before embracing Islam, he was a Roman Catholic priest. He now lives in Egypt.

You can visit his website here.

Irish diplomat expelled: talked to Al Qaeda-linked militants

Sat Feb 16, 2008 7:25 pm

An Irish diplomat who was expelled from Afghanistan for talking to Taliban-linked insurgents defended his actions today, insisting that dialogue could persuade militants to abandon violence. "There is a critical difference between what is discreet and what is covert," Michael Semple, who was the second most senior European Union official in Afghanistan, said in an interview with the Guardian. "What we were doing was simply discreet because that was what was required. But it was totally in line with official policy to bring people in from the cold." Semple was expelled late last year with Briton Mervyn Patterson, a UN political adviser, for threatening national security by contacting the Taliban in the volatile southern province of Helmand. A February 4 Financial Times report from Kabul said discovery of the contact -- and a secret British plan to train former Taliban fighters who wanted to switch sides -- had worsened relations between Kabul and London. Britain has denied being "engaged" with the Taliban and Semple told The Guardian that they had not opened any such channel with Al-Qaeda-linked Taliban. Semple said he firmly believed that "with good management you could break two-thirds of the insurgents away from" what he called "those irreconcilables" -- hardline militants totally against any accommodation with coalition forces."There isn't a serious actor in Afghanistan who says the only way forward is to fight your way out."
taken from

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Schools cultural Mediation Project

The Schools cultural Mediation Project
(North West Inner City Network)

Has the pleasure of inviting you to the first organised conference on cultural mediation in schools.

“Cultural Mediation in Irish Schools”
Learning from other Experiences

Thursday 21st of February
Clock Tower. Department of Education and Science, Marlborough Street, Dublin 1
10.00 am to 16.00 pm (registration at 9.30)

The Schools Cultural Mediation Project is a North West Inner City project that works with 10 schools in the Dublin 7 School Completion Cluster. The project aims to facilitate and support the integration of migrant parents in their children’s school life. The project has already established a translation and interpretation service for the schools and is now investigating the models of cultural mediation that are relevant to the Irish context.
This conference will present guest speakers from three projects that have been developing and implementing different models of cultural mediation in schools for the past 10 years.

Nihat Dursun Clélia Ongpin:
Project Coordinator/Ethno-Psychologist
Project coordinator Salma Fazil: School Mediator
“Service de Médiation Interculturelle et Sociale” « Espace de Médiation Interculturelle et Sociale »
(Intercultural and Social Mediation Service) (Intercultural and Social Mediation Space)
Charleroi, Belgium Sarcelles, France

Catriona Brown and Sheena Admas, Teachers, Battlefield Primary School, Glasgow
Morning session Chaired by: Bernie Mc Donnell, Education Coordinator POBAL
Afternoon session Chaired by: Philip Watts, NCCRI director

The detailed programme of the day will be available shortly. For registration forms please contact:
Diana Nacu, project Administrator. Email: Tel: 01 87 82 906

Monday, February 4, 2008

New Immigration Bill has Serious Flaws

Press Release

29th January 2008

New Immigration Bill has Serious Flaws

Changes Needed to Ensure Fairness and Due Process

“The Immigration Residence and Protection Bill introduced today by Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan has serious flaws,” said the Director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland , Siobhán O’Donoghue. “In Ireland we value fairness, transparency and due process. The Immigration Bill in its current form seriously lacks these basic principles and major changes in the Bill are needed to get this right now in order to meet everyone’s interests.”

Ms. O’Donoghue continued, “For example, I think the Irish public would be shocked to learn the unchecked powers and discretion the Bill gives the Minister and the Gardaí. We know from our history the dangers of giving too much power or discretion to any one person or group. According to the Bill the Minister has the power to summarily deport a person from Ireland without any right to appeal and that is shocking.”

“The Bill must include the establishment of an independent appeals body for all immigration and asylum-related applications. We know that mistakes can happen. For example a victim of trafficking or exploitation could be deported in error. I don’t think that is the legacy Ireland wishes to foster.”

“Something else that the Irish value and honour deeply is the family. The family is the cornerstone of Irish life. Those who come to live, work and pay taxes in Ireland deserve the same right to live a normal and dignified life by having their families with them. Keeping families separated benefits no-one. What is gained by keeping a man from Bangladesh who has been living and working in Ireland for the past four years separated from his wife and daughter, whom he has only seen in pictures? By not providing a clear right to family reunion we are creating division, isolation and unnecessary suffering. If we are serious about integration then we need to start by welcoming families and removing the barriers to family reunion.”

“The Bill also lacks adequate protections for the most vulnerable, such as those who have become undocumented through workplace exploitation and those who are victims of trafficking. For example people who are trafficked and exploited deserve at a minimum a six month permission to remain to get themselves sorted and back into the system.”

“The thinking behind this bill was to set out fair and transparent rules and procedures around all aspects of immigration law. This Bill fails to do that.”


Delphine O'Keeffe
Information & Communications

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
55 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1
( 01 889 7570 / Fax 01 889 7579

January 29th 2008


Irish Refugee Council warns that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill does not ensure a fair hearing for people in danger

The Irish Refugee Council today welcomed the Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan’s commitment to an Independent Appeals Tribunal for asylum and other forms of protection. Robin Hanan Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Refugee Council said, ‘We are pleased that the Minister has assured us that an Independent Tribunal will be set up. However this commitment is not reflected in the Bill. We feel that a golden opportunity has been lost to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of people in deep distress who come to this country looking for protection. It is widely recognised that the current asylum appeals process is a scandal. The recent Nyembo case, which was settled out of court by the Government, indicates that for many asylum seekers is it impossible to get a fair hearing.’

The Minister has missed an important chance to overhaul a deeply flawed system for people seeking protection in this country. The ‘culture of disbelief’ which exists at the moment means the application and appeals system is stacked against applicants. This needs to be replaced by a more balanced assessment of the dangers which they might face. Protections for applicants have not been improved in the current Bill.

Maureen Kirkpatrick IRC Legal Officer said, ‘Every day in the course of my work I meet asylum seekers who due to no fault of their own have been unable to have the facts surrounding their application properly considered. This has grave implications for each asylum seeker and I had hoped that the Minister would put in place a much better system with safeguards.’

While welcoming the fact that the Minister has as promised included new provisions on trafficking, Jyothi Kanics IRC Separated Children’s officer said that ‘We welcome the inclusion of the new provision related to protection for suspected victims of trafficking who are non-EU nationals. However, the new measures to establish a ‘recovery and reflection period’ ( of 45 days) as well as temporary residency (of 6 months) do not go far enough in providing stability and protection. These measures are only minimum standards and, since they are dependant on the victim’s ability and willingness to co-operate with investigation and prosecution efforts, they do not reflect good practice.

'Remember that those who have been trafficked are victims of criminal acts and deserve support and compensation. They need adequate time to recover and to make decisions regarding their future options. We strongly advocate a longer reflection and recovery period of 6 months – irrespective of whether a suspected victim agrees to cooperate with the authorities. This is necessary since many trafficked persons are recovering from significant trauma, while others fear retaliation.’

Robin Hanan said ’ We are asking the Minister to create an asylum system that matches best international standards and ends the secrecy in the process by making key changes to the IRP Bill which would:

Spell out clearly the rights of a person applying for asylum to a fair hearing with an independent and open appeal
Name an absolute rule that no one can be sent back to a place where they face danger or persecution in line with international law
Ensure appropriate protections for the most vulnerable, including children and victims of torture

For further info rmation please contact Roisin Boyd
Irish Refugee Council
88 Capel Street, Dublin 1Phone: +353-1-8730042

Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill requires significant amendment to achieve a fair system: ICI

Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) chief executive Denise Charlton has warned that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, published today by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, will require significant amendment if it is to achieve the Government’s stated aim of establishing fair and transparent immigration system.

Ms Charlton said reform of Ireland ’s immigration laws was long overdue.

“At first glance, there is little evidence that the problems besetting the system now will be addressed – inordinate delays in decision-making, inconsistent decisions, lack of clarity and a reliance on the courts to sort out the mess, with resulting cost implications for taxpayers.

“The fact that the Government has reneged on its commitment in the Programme for Government to establish an independent appeals tribunal for immigration decisions means its reliance on the courts will undoubtedly continue.

“We hope to work with the Government and opposition parties to help ensure the legislation establishes a system that is fair and transparent, which will benefit not only migrants but Ireland itself.

“Immigration and integration are among the biggest issues facing Ireland today and we don’t want this to be an opportunity lost by the Government to establish a workable, fair and forward-looking immigration system.”

Ms Charlton said the ICI would be closely examining the Bill and hope to provide a comprehensive analysis to the Government.

“Another of our concerns is that, in relation to reunification of families separated by migration – consistently one of the most common issues raised with us by migrants - this legislation does not actually say who is able to come to Ireland and what criteria they need to meet to enter the country,” Ms Charlton said.

“The European Commission has recognised family reunification is one of the major types of migration in the European Union at the moment and Ireland ’s experience would be no different.

“Yet, if this Bill is passed as it is, Ireland will be the only country in the European Union that does not have primary legislation covering this type of migration. That doesn’t make sense.

“It particularly doesn’t make sense at a time when the Government says integration is one of its priority policy areas.

“Irish people have a strong sense of family and would know how difficult it would be for a person to feel part of a community when someone they love is not allowed to be with them, or even to visit, in many cases.”

Ms Charlton welcomed the fact that the Bill included provisions for victims of trafficking.

“We are pleased that the Government has included provisions for victims of trafficking,” Ms Charlton said. “We will be looking at this section of the Bill in coming days and hope to work with the Government to ensure Ireland adopts best practice in terms of protection and access to services from this particular group of very vulnerable people.”

ICI chief executive Denise Charlton is available for interview today.

Ruth Evans
Information Management and
Communications Officer
Immigrant Council of Ireland
Ph: 01 645 8049
Fax: 01 645 8059

press release. For immediate release. 29 January 2008

FLAC reaction to Immigration Residence and Protection Bill 2008

In its first reaction to the Immigration Residence & Protection Bill which was published today, FLAC, the non-governmental organisation campaigning for equal access to justice, has raised concerns about the protection of the rights of immigrants to access fair and transparent procedures.

“While the Minister quite naturally wants to set up a fast, efficient immigration system, our concern is that a fair balance must be maintained between efficiency and rights” according to FLAC’s director general Noeline Blackwell.

Ms. Blackwell said that FLAC is particularly concerned that unlike the asylum system, the proposed immigration system does not include any independent appeals procedure. “An independent appeal is one of the safeguards needed in any administrative procedure which takes place within a single department, without any oversight or scrutiny from any other source” according to her. "There is no provision for an immigration appeals authority at all" she said.

A further concern for the organisation is the increased restrictions placed on access to the courts. According to Ms. Blackwell, existing legislation requires immigrants and those seeking protection to meet a higher standard than is needed for most other cases which come before the courts. This Bill introduces further restrictions on the right of access to the court, and can also penalise an applicant by awarding costs against the lawyer. “An explanatory memorandum to the Bill states that this could happen, as an example, where a judge considers that a case is ‘frivolous’. However, a lawyer cannot predict what a judge will think of a case. The danger is that lawyers will be discouraged by the sheer weight of obstacles that impede access to the courts for immigrants.”


Noeline Blackwell is available for comment at: 01-8745690

Noeline Blackwell
Director General
FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres Ltd.)
13 Lr Dorset Street, Dublin 1
Tel: 01-874 5690
Fax: 01-874 5320

PRESS RELEASE 29.01.2008

Integrating Ireland’s responds to the publication of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill: A Landmark Opportunity Missed

Integrating Ireland today (29.01.08) welcomed the publication of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. Commenting on the publication of the Bill, Aki Stavrou , Director of Integrating Ireland said:

“Although the Minister states that this is a landmark piece of legislation, we feel it is a landmark for the missed opportunity to address the fundamental flaws in our immigration and protection system. While we welcome the adoption of a single procedure for people seeking protection, we are extremely concerned that the provisions fall far short of fulfilling Ireland ’s obligations under international human rights law to ensure that a person seeking protection does not face a risk of return to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
In response to comments made by the Minister today, Mr Stavrou also highlighted that:
“It is extremely disappointing that in launching the Bill the Minister has chosen a well worn path in promoting a culture of disbelief, where every asylum seeker is believed to be abusing the system. It is also regrettable that the Minister thinks it is necessary to question the fundamental principle of access to justice and the importance of maintaining full judicial oversight of decisions that directly affect Ireland ’s fulfilment of its international legal obligations.
He added that:

“Integrating Ireland along with numerous organisations have previously highlighted that provisions in the Bill fall well short of international standards and may place Ireland in breach of our obligations under international refugee and human rights law. It is disappointing that these shortcomings have not been addressed in the Bill. Integrating Ireland therefore looks forward to working with the Government to tackle these issues.”

Integrating Ireland - The Immigrant Network
17 Lower Camden Street
Dublin 2
00 353 1 475 9473 ext. 205