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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Irish Socialist Workers Party solidarity with Muslims in their Hijab Campaign

The Muslim Community Lobby (MCL) would like to express our thanks for the positive stance taken by the Irish Socialist Workers Party. MCL would like to see a positive stance or press release by the other political parties as well.

The Irish Socialist Workers party is looking for new members an opportunity for those who would like to engage in politics.

نشكر حزب العمال الاشتراكي الايرلندي على اتخاذه موقف ايجابي ازاء قضية الحجاب في المدارس ونهيب بمن له الميول السياسي من العرب والمسلمين بان يشتركوا في هذا الحزب حتى يكونوا دوما معنا على الخط وجزاء لموقفهم الشجاع .

Public Meeting on the Hijab, Racism and Education

Saturday 26th July 4pmWynn's Hotel, Lower Abbey St

Speakers: Sinead Kennedy (SWP)

and speaker from Islamic Cultural Centre

A Community school in Wexford recently became the focus of a debate about the headscarf or hijab,that muslim women wear.

حدث الامر في مدرسة في وكسفورد بجنوب شرق ايرلندا. وكانت بنت مسلمة اسمها شكينا وتبلغ من العمر اربعة اعشرة سنة, من اب ايرلندي ابيض اسلم حديتا اسمه لييم أييقن وام بريطانية سمراء اسمها بفرلي ماكنزي اسلمت حديثا. وقد طرح مدير المدرسة نيكولاس سوييتمان على امناء المدرسة موضوع منعها من لبس الحجاب غطاء الراس, والزامها بالزي المدرسي الايرلندي. فكان رد امناء المدرسة بعدم التعرض لها وتركها تلبس الحجاب مع الزي المدرسي. فلم يقنع مدير المدرسة بجواب الامناء, واثار الموضوع مع وزارة التعليم الايرلندية التي بدورها احالتها الى اعضاء البرلمان. ومن هنا اصبحت مشلكة الحجاب تاخذ شكلها الحالي.

14-year-old Shekinah Egan's parents requested that she be allowed to wear the hijab to school in Gorey, Co. Wexford.

Her school board of management granted permission but the principal referred the question to the Department of Education, which refused to provide the guidance sought.

Nicolas Sweetman, Principal of the school, has called for the Department of Education to issue an official policy for schools.While the Department of Education has said very little politicians such as Chris Andrews of Fianna Fail and Labour Party spokesperson on Education and Science Ruairi Quinn have both said that headscarves should not be worn in state schools.

Ruairi Quinn's statement was particularly obnoxious as he also claims to be a socialist - even of a very mild sort.He said that 'If people want to come into a western society that is Christian and secular, they need to conform to the rules and regulations of the country.

روري كوين عضو برلماني متطرف سياسي يساري يقول انه يحمل افكارا اشتراكية , وبهذا يريد حزب العمال الاشتراكي بان يوضح الفكرة الاشتراكية بان يكون مبتعدا تماما عن اقوال روري كوين المتطرف وامثاله مثل كرس اندرو من الحزب الحاكم الفينا فيول. ومن المعروف ان الحزب الحاكم له راي في ان لا يلغى الحجاب من المدارس ويجب ان يكون مصاحبا باللون وشكل الزي المدرسي.

'Quinn is obviously contradictory when he says that a country can be both 'Christina and secular'. But his main point was that migrants coming into Ireland must conform to 'our' way of life.

Yet there is no single national culture which has existed from all time. Irish national culture has been changed and transformed by successive waves of migrants, by interactions with, and opposition to, empire; and by the long Irish tradition of migration itself.

Today we live in a global multi-cultural world where the main problem we face is racism - the attempt to put down and discriminate against people through all sorts of cultural codes.The reactions of Ruairi Quinn and Chris Andrews is in stark contrast to an Irish Times /TNS MRBI poll in which almost half of people surveyed feel the wearing of hijabs or headscarves by Muslim students should be allowed in State schools.

وبما اننا نعيش في عالم متعدد الثقافات والعادات والاديان فانه يجب ان لا نتخذ قرارات تثري العنصرية في البلد وان جريدة الايرش تاميز قد اعلنت عن استبيان تبين فيه بان الحجاب لا يجب ان يلغى من المدارس.

This debate has to be seen in the wider context of what is happening in the rest of Europe as young muslim women are being targeted in the post-9/11 so-called war on terror.

وان هذ النقاش يبين ماذا حدث بعد احداث سبتمر ومن اسوأ الاشياء ان تكون المراة هي التى تتحمل عبأ المشكلة

The Dutch government have banned muslim women from wearing the Burqa (full facial veil) in public places.

الحكومة الهولندية قد منعت لبس البرقة او النقاب غطاء الوجه في الاماكن العامة

Some German states ban teachers from wearing headscarves in public schools and is an on-going issue in Britain.

الحكومة الالمانية منعت لبس الحجاب غطاء الراس في المدارس الحكومية وهناك نقاش بمنعه في بريطانيا

It is a worrying that Ireland's politicians are following Europe's islamo-scaremongering just as the economy is facing a recession and cuts in public spending.

انه لمن المثير للذعر بان نرى السياسيين الاروبيين يثيرون الذعر والخوف من الاسلام فوبيا وان المراة المسلمة تتحمل العبئ في حين ان الاقتصاد يتدهور وتقطع الميزانية

Migrants will be among the first to find themselves victims of these cuts. It is no coincidence that the Dept of Education has pulled the funding for the Integrate Ireland Language Teaching which provides English classes.

وبهذا فقد اغلقت وزارة التعليم مدارس اللغة للاجئيين والمهاجرين في كل البلد ومنعت دعمها ماليا مع انها كانت ذات فائدة كبيرة انظر هذا الرابط

Link Demonstration and protest against the closure of schools in front of the 'Dail' 3th July 2008

The Socialist Workers Party are opposed to islamophobia and any ban on the hijab.

وبهذا يعارض حزب العمال الاشتراكي الايرلندي اي اسلاموفوبيا او منعا للحجاب

وبهذا نشكر حزب العمال الاشتراكي الايرلندي لتوضيحة الرؤية ونرجوا من الجميع الاتصال بهم وشكرهم


Socialist Workers PartySocialist Workers PartyAddress: PO Box 1648, Dublin, Co. DublinContact: Phone: 01 8722682 Fax: 01 8723838Email: info@swp.ieWebsite: http://www.swp.ie/

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A well respected prominent figure of the muslim community in Ireland Irish Muslim Convert Mrs. Asiya Al Tawash defending the Hijab and women choice.

الاخت اسيا الطواش حديثة العهد بالاسلام لها مكانة مرموقة في الجالية الاسلامية الايرلندية تدافع عن الحجاب وتؤكد على حق المراة في ارتداء الحجاب وخاصة في المدارس

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Asiya Al Tawash said: "Ruiary Quin!!! what happened to Ruiary Quinn?" She insists that multiculturalism is the way forward and to keep the muslim woman identity contrary to what Ruiary and others think or say.

أسيا الطواش تثري فكرة التقاء الثقافات والحضارات على اسس ثقافية وحضارية لتعميم الفائدة وليس الاندماج الكلي الذي يطمس شخصية المراة المسلمة

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Beverley Mckenzie, (British muslim convert) and Mother of Shekinah Egan answering quetions

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Beverly Mckenzei Chairwoman of the Hijab committee and Lorraine O'Connor (Irish muslim convert) talking about the Hijab committee

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Beverley Mckenzie spoke of Brian hayes (TD) distening himself from being opposing the Hijab in school after a telephone conversation with Brian.

بفرلي قالت ان "براين هييز تراجع في اقواله بمنع الحجاب من المدارس في حديث هاتفي معه"

واقول: الامر يبقى معلقا حتى نرى تحركا ايجابيا منه

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Sinead Kennedy is a member of The Irish Socialist Workers Party showing solidarity with Muslims in their Hijab Campaign. Sinead Kennedy has written on culture and politics, women and the Celtic Tiger. She is a long standing campaigner against war and for women’s rights.

شينيد كندي المتحدثة باسم حزب العمال الاشتراكي الايرلندي تدفع بحملة الحجاب الى الامام وتعارض اقوال معارضي الحجاب

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Sinead Kennedy 2

She tried to clarify the long standing comment by Karl Heinrich Marx saying "Religion is the opium of the people" that it did not mean what it says, click on the video.

شينيد تعقب على مقولة ماركس "الدين افيون الشعوب " بانها لا تعني ما تحمله الكلمات من معاني وانما تعني ذلك لمن يريدالتكاسل

She was thorough and spoke so well of the events happening with regard to migrants and multicultural ideas, the Hijab and Islamo phobia .

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Irish born Liam Egan new Muslim Convert father of Shekinah.

He said:" There is a real person under that Hijab who should be respected for what she wants to do."

It couldn't be expressed better, thanks Liam. المسلم الايرلندي لييم أيقن, ابو شكينا, قال: "انه بداخل الحجاب امراة لابد من احترامها ودعها تفعل ما ارادت بدلا من اتخاذ القرار نيابة عنها"

واقول انها كلمة صائبة من مجمع الكلم يا لييم

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School days' colleague talking about Ruiary Quinn احد زملاء روري كوين يتهجم على ارائه ويفندها

The rest of the videos are questions by the audience اسئلة للمتحدثين من الحضور

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Attack on Saudi Arabia and Hijab تهجم على السعودية والحجاب من اسياوي

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Video and report by Bashir

Sunday, July 13, 2008

InIntegrating Ireland AGM


The Meeting took place on Friday 11th July 2008
Whitefriar Carmelite Community Centre, Gymnasium 2nd floor,
Aungier Street , Dublin 2


Introduction to Integrating Ireland By Aki Stavrou



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Introduction to Volunteering Ireland by Chiara Magini



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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Brian Hayes and Ruiari Quinn Hijab Debate with Bashir at the Dial

Debating Ruiari Quinn and Brian Hayes at the Irish Parliament room in the (Dial) Tuesday 8/7/2008.

ندوة بين روري كوين من حزب العمال وبراين هيز من فينا قيل وبشير من اللوبي المسلم في البرلمان الايرلندي (الدووييل) يوم الثلاثاء الماضي 8/7/2008

وكان محور النقاش هو العلمانية والحجاب واحترام الاديان في الدول العلمانية. وقد قرأت آية الحجاب في القران بالانجليزي لاقناعهما بانها قانون اسلامي وليس عادة. وان النساء لهن كامل الحرية في أي بلد في العالم بان يرتدين الحجاب ام لا ولا للاباء يد في عقابهن اذا لم يردن لباس الحجاب لانه امر ايماني. وان بناتنا يرتدين الحجاب بارادتهن كما تفعل المراة المسلمة عند ما تعتنق الاسلام. وانهن يلبسن الحجاب منتاسقا مع البدلة المدرسية في اللون والذوق. وان الحجاب ليس شعارا للاسلام وان شعارنا هو الهلال الذي تجده فوق مآذن المساجد. وان السياسيين لا يجب ان يتدخلوا في امر مثل هذا الا اذا كانوا يؤيدون الحجاب. وان عداء المسلمين في ايرلندا والعالم ليس من الحكمة في شئ. وان الايرلنديين كانوا يفجرون لندن وبرمنجهام وكانوا مطلوبيين للمحاكم البريطانية فلا يجب ان تضيقوا على المسلمين بسبب دينهم. وان اذا لم نستطع المحافظة على ديننا فماذا تريدوننا ان نفعل ؟ هل تريدوننا ان نشرب الخمر ونخرج الى المراقص ونتعاطى الحشيش والافيون والابر وما الى ذلك ام تريدون ان نتقابل في نقاط ما بين الثقافة الاسلامية والثقافة الايرلندية. ثم ان الايرلنديين في بريطانيا وامريكا لا زالوا يحتفظون بثقافتهم وعاداتهم بل لهم حانات خاصة واماكن تجمع خاصة ولا زالوا يحيون بهاديز داي فلما لا نحترم ثقافاتنا ونفهم بعضنا ونتفهم مشاكلنا ونعيش في سلام.

The subject of the debate is that how come a secular state would interfere with religious teachings when no harm done to others? there seem to be a misleading understanding of the whole issue of the Hijab. To our information the headmaster of the Wexford school has accepted Hijab with no further problem. Trying to talk to both Brian Hayes and Ruiari Quinn to ask them not to back the idea of banning Hijab from school.

1. Introduction to Hijab
What we would love to see in this life is harmony respect decency tolerance discipline understanding and caring. these attributes have to be enforced in our society, for the well being of our children.
The symbol of Islam is the Crescent and Star which you would find on top of the Mosque. Hijab is not a symbol of Islam, but it is a must and a task has to be observed by women. Hijab is not a matter of choice, it is an order from Allah, as the Quran prescribes. It was explained to Brian Hayes and Ruiari Quinn that and shown the verse in Quran.
Sisters of Jewish and Christian faith observe the Hijab. Islam, Christianity and Jewdism are all heaven religions which unite in wearing Hijab, and they are similar in many decent values
, for instance, be good to your neighbour, don’t thieve, don’t hurt others, be nice to your parents, and so on. Still some christian sisters wear Hijab up to now in Ireland. In fact holy Mary always pictured with Hijab, in schools and we saw Mother Teresa in Hijab and today still we see most religious women of different faiths wear the Hijab. Only recently Hijab was popular in catholic Ireland. In fact many still remember those days in Ireland where their own mothers wear hijab to meet an outsider man. I myself heard on the radio a woman from rural Ireland disgusted with the way that young girls walking naked in O'Cornell street because the woman think their wear is not decent. As politicians you suppose to be grown up in a decent religious and conservative society in Ireland.

2 Secularism is today’s government slogan they claim that government officials don’t interfere with religions, and pay every respect to them. Yet we find religion interfered with!

3 Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of security to everyone (man and women). Headscarf is what women will wear because of her belief. If secular regimes will take away such a freedom, then secular is tilting towards dictatorship.

4 We as Muslims living in Ireland don’t feel that the Irish have any problem with the hijab, the Irish people are used to have nuns and religious people.

5 Hijab in school does not interfere with the pupil’s work and does not interfere with the teacher giving the lessen and it blends very well with the uniform. There is no problem with Hijab in schools.

6 Politicians should never interfere with a religious act that does not harm anyone. Specially when it is a way of life like Hijab.

7 You will alienate Muslim parents and they will pull their daughters from the government schools. This has a very negative effect on integration and pushing them into the other side. You defeat the object of being a secular regime which it should encamps all faiths and let them live in perfect harmony.
Being target it, is always make you vulnerable, and vulnerable people can't feel safe. you as a politician have taken it to look like “if you don’t like it get out of the country” what about the Irish and the British Muslims who originally are white and adopted the faith.They have the right to the country like anyone else.

8 School uniform is adhered to by the young Muslim girls, and kept the way it should be rightly. There is no problem in wearing it and the headscarf blends with it.
Why should politicians interfere with Hijab:
Headmasters and headmistresses always commented good on girls with headscarf never there is any problem. So why you need to interfere with it as a politician. If any school wishes to stop Hijab then let that school take the parents to the court to stop their child wearing Hijab or find an alternative school.


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Brian Hayes and Ruiari Quinn Hijab Debate with Bashir at the Dial 1

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Brian Hayes and Ruiari Quinn Hijab Debate with Bashir at the Dial 2

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Brian Hayes and Ruiari Quinn Hijab Debate with Bashir at the Dial 3

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Brian Hayes and Ruiari Quinn Hijab Debate with Bashir at the Dial 4

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Brian Hayes and Ruiari Quinn Hijab Debate with Bashir at the Dial 5

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Brian Hayes and Ruiari Quinn Hijab Debate with Bashir at the Dial 6

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Part 7

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Part 8

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Part 9

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Part 10

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ruairi Quinn and Brian Hayes against Hijab..Why?


Patricia McDonagh
Monday June 02 2008
MUSLIM girls should not be allowed to wear a headscarf in public schools, the two main opposition parties said last night.
Labour's Ruairi Quinn said immigrants who come to Ireland need to conform to the culture of this country.
"If people want to come into a western society that is Christian and secular, they need to conform to the rules and regulations of that country," the Labour spokesman on education and science told the Irish Independent.
His comments come amid mounting controversy over guidelines on the wearing of the hijab, commonly worn by Muslim girl in state schools.
His stance on the issue was backed by his Fine Gael counterpart Brian Hayes, who says it makes "absolute sense" that there is one uniform for everyone.
The Fine Gael education spokesman said the wearing of the hijab was not a fundamental requirement to be a Muslim, but more an example of modesty and cultural mores.
Recently, Nicholas Sweetman, principal of Gorey Community School, Co Wexford, called for official direction to bring an end to the practice of schools imposing divergent policies.
The Wexford controversy followed the Department of Education's refusal to offer advice to the school when a Muslim couple asked last September that their daughter be allowed to wear the headscarf in class.
Mr Quinn said immigrants should live by Irish laws and conform to Irish norms.
"Nobody is formally asking them to come here. In the interests of integration and assimilation, they should embrace our culture," he said.
He added: "Irish girls don't wear headscarves. A manifestation of religious beliefs in such a way is unacceptable and draws attention to those involved. I believe in a public school situation they should not wear a headscarf."
Mr Hayes said Ireland should not be going down the route of multiculturalism.
"It makes absolute sense that there would be one uniform for everyone. The wearing of the hijab is not about religiosity, it is more an example of modesty. It is not a fundamental requirement to be a Muslim," he said.
But Fine Gael and Labour's position on the controversy sparked an angry reaction.
Islamic Society of Ireland spokesperson Summayah Kenna branded the comments by Mr Hayes and Mr Quinn as "baffling", adding the hijab was a religious obligation.
She said she was "shocked" by Mr Hayes' assertion that it was otherwise, and urged him to check up on his information.
And director of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism Philip Watt said the "ill-thought" comments from both political figures were "disappointing".
Last night, a spokesperson for Integration Minister Conor Lenihan said he had no problem with students wearing the hijab.
"For those that wear the hijab, it's an issue of modesty. It's not so long since Irish women wore headscarves to church, so we have to respect that," the spokesperson said.
At present, individual school authorities are responsible for the drawing up of school rules, including school-uniform requirements.
But the Education Act requires school boards to have respect for the diversity of values, beliefs and traditions.
The Department of Education said last night it had asked Mr Lenihan to consider the matter in the context of the development of an Intercultural Education Strategy.
It said nothing would be ruled in or out until after talks take place.
- Patricia McDonagh

Sunday, July 6, 2008

French plan seeks to to expel more illegal immigrants from EU

JAMIE SMYTH, European Correspondent, in Cannes, France
THE GOVERNMENT says it may sign up to a major new initiative designed to crack down on illegal immigration and co-ordinate asylum policies in the EU.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern will meet fellow EU justice ministers in Cannes today to debate a European pact on immigration and asylum.
A draft copy of the pact obtained by The Irish Times shows that it will call on EU states to expel more illegal immigrants, harmonise their asylum procedures and make more effort to integrate immigrants into their societies.
The draft pact states that the EU does not have the resources to decently receive "all who see Europe as an El Dorado".
It also warns that poorly-managed immigration may disrupt the social cohesion of host countries.
"The organisation of immigration must consequently take account of Europe's reception capacity in terms of its labour market, housing, and health, education and social services, and protect migrants against possible exploitation by criminal networks," says the pact, which has been prepared by France, the current holder of the six-month rotating EU presidency.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy has made combating illegal immigration a key priority of his country's EU presidency, arguing that migration flows across Europe mean that states cannot solve the problem alone.
Paris has also indicated that too much immigration is having a corrosive impact on EU public attitudes.
Last week French immigration minister Brice Hortefeux, who has been working on the fine details of the immigration pact, said concerns about immigration were one of the reasons why Irish voters had rejected the Lisbon Treaty last month. His statement corresponds to anecdotal comments made by many local politicians after the treaty result.
However, an opinion poll commissioned by the European Commission found just 1 per cent of voters cited immigration as the primary reason for voting against the treaty.
The draft European Pact on Immigration and Asylum is probably the most comprehensive blueprint for Europe's future immigration policy ever drawn up. It touches on a range of policy areas, including legal migration, how to integrate immigrants, making agreements with migrants' countries of origin to enable deportations, and the issue of regularising illegal immigrants.
EU ministers for justice will debate the draft pact today, and European diplomats expect them to formally sign the eight-page text in October.
A spokesman for Minister for Justice Mr Ahern said last night that the Government was favourably disposed towards the pact, agreed with most of its points, and could envisage signing up to it after debating it more closely.
A decision to sign up to such a policy document would represent a shift in Irish policy towards EU immigration initiatives.
Up until now the Government has chosen not to take part in a range of initiatives in the field, preferring to co-ordinate its policies with Britain to sustain the common travel area between Britain and Ireland. For example, recently the Government chose not to get involved in the co-called Blue Card initiative, which would enable skilled immigrants to come to the EU legally.
However, the Government has taken part in other EU initiatives to combat illegal immigration such as joint repatriation flights for illegal immigrants.
The pact estimates that about two million migrants enter the EU every year. The European Commission estimates that there are up to eight million illegal immigrants currently living in the union. More than 200,000 illegal immigrants were arrested in the first half of 2007, and fewer than 90,000 were expelled, according to the EU executive.


Irish Times

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Hijab in Irish Schools



This blog post is contributed by PhD candidate Mairead Enright whose research (on the nikah nama) is supervised by Dr. Siobhan Mullally and funded by an IRCHSS thematic grant for research into Gender, Equality, Multiculturalism and Religious Diversity

الحجاب في المدارس الايرلندية يزحف الى الصحف كما فعل في الدول الاوروبية الاخرى : مثل الدينمارك وفرنسا وبريطانيا
The issue of religious dress is at last beginning to make headlines in Ireland just as it has done in Denmark, France and the UK. Medical students who wished to wear hijab while working at Beaumont hospital (they were permitted to wear disposable hijabs) and a Sikh recruit to the Garda reserve who wished to wear a turban as part of his uniform (he felt unable to join after permission was refused) were the focus of comment in 2007. In May of this year the issue of religious dress in schools gained prominence.
14-year-old Shekinah Egan's parents requested that she be allowed to wear the hijab to school in Gorey, Co. Wexford. Her school board of management granted permission but the principal referred the question to the Department of Education, which
refused to provide the guidance sought. In practice, Muslim students have had permission to wear the hijab in a number of schools for some time. However, there is no consensus on the issue; the Sunday Business Post reports that a south Dublin school has banned the hijab, citing its Catholic ethos as justification. Both the ASTI and the Irish Council of Imams have emphasised the desirability of achieving a consensus on the issue.
The current Minister for Education has said
that the government will consider whether to issue guidelines on the wearing of hijab in schools when it drafts an intercultural education strategy some time later this year. It seems likely that, if guidelines are issued, schools will retain a significant amount of discretion around the issue of religious dress. As we await the department's decision, a number of important issues have ripened for consideration. They include:
ليس هناك اي مادة في القانون تمنع ارتداء الحجاب ولكن هناك من يريد ان يقنن قانونا يمنعه او يهذبه في المدارس والاماكن الحكومية
· What the constitutional position on this issue will be. To date, there is no case on point and any argument on the hijab would be from first principles. For a summary of possible arguments see Claire Horgan, "A Veiled Problem: Religion in Irish Schools" (2005) 8 TCLR 5 (Available on
HeinOnline). At ECtHR level, hijab bans were upheld in the context of a teacher of young children in a non-denominational school in Dahlab v Switzerland and in respect of a university student in Leyla Sahin v Turkey (where, of course, the state's interest in preserving a policy of secularism was a core issue). Arguably, any Irish case would raise very different considerations, not least because the majority of Irish schools are Catholic in ethos rather than non-denominational. In England and Wales, school bans on forms of Muslim dress other than the headscarf - the jilbab (a long gown) and the niqab (a veil which obscures the face except the eyes) - have been upheld as consistent with the ECHR by the House of Lords and the High Court respectively. However, these decisions were made in the context of schools where alternative forms of dress which were acceptable to the majority of Muslim students in those schools were already permitted. In terms of issues of non-discrimination and freedom of religion, it may be that Ireland is largely free to carve its own path.
· Whether Ireland will follow other European countries on the retreat from normative multiculturalism, or whether aspirations for what the
Statement on Integration Strategy and Diversity Management calls a "common sense" approach to cultural difference will be realised in a different form which will take account of the peculiarities of the Irish context. The education spokesmen of the major opposition parties have argued that the hijab engages crucial questions around the Irish approach to cultural difference and have called for a ban on the hijab in public schools. Labour's Ruairí Quinn stated that "If people want to come into a western society that is Christian and secular, they need to conform to the rules and regulations of that country... Nobody is formally asking them to come here. In the interests of integration and assimilation, they should embrace our culture...Irish girls don't wear headscarves." Speaking to the Irish Times, Fine Gael's Brian Hayes observed that "[t]here is enough segregation in Ireland without adding this to it." Public opinion appears to be more nuanced. Monday's Irish Times reported the results of TNS/mrbi poll on the place of the Islamic headscarf in Irish schools. 48% of those surveyed felt that Muslim students should be allowed to wear the hijab in state schools with significant differences of opinion between men and women, younger and older people, socio-economic groups and supporters of the main political parties.
· Whether it will be possible to develop policies around interculturalism which avoid essentialism and take account of the complexity of the issues at hand. For instance, the intersections of racial, cultural, religious and gender differences which characterise the hijab as a policy problem. To date, reference to gender has been curiously absent from political statements on the hijab. However, media commentary on the matter has run the full gamut of the "Multiculturalism vs. Feminism" debate. For a flavour, see
Martina Devlin in the Irish Independent, Alison O'Connor in the Sunday Business Post and Breda O'Brien in the Irish Times.
· What will be the role of unelected representative bodies such as the Irish Council of Imams, which are gaining a significant role as spokesmen for religious and cultural groups, what effect their prominence in policy debates will have at a local level, and what steps will be taken to ensure that 'minorities within minorities', especially women and the young, will have a meaningful voice in negotiations around culture.
· Whether we are seeing in statements such as Mr. Quinn's assertion that "Irish girls don't wear headscarves" a nascent politics of belonging - similar to the exclusionary politics of Britishness promoted in the UK - which defines Irishness, not in terms of birth or blood, but in terms of behaviour. Would our politics of identity be able to absorb hybrid notions of identity and will the process of integration require transformation on the part of established Irish citizens as well as on the part of newcomers? The story of the girl at the centre of the current hijab controversy: Shekinah Egan; the daughter of Irish and British converts to Islam, who wears her hijab to play camogie, neatly embodies this issue.
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by Fiona de Londras



Source CCJHR