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
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Face of Irish Islamophobia
The disparity between media (mis)representations of Islam and Islam as practised by the vast majority of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims is well documented. Indeed, Channel 4's 'It Shouldn't Happen to a Muslim' highlighted the hostility that ordinary Muslims are subject to on a daily basis because of negative media portrayal. Less documented however is the Irish media's inordinate demonization of its relatively small and innocuous Muslim population.
A survey of press coverage in Ireland has revealed a disturbing trend of state sanctioned Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism, with the Irish Independent coming under specific criticism for its rash and often-inaccurate portrayal of Islam and Muslims.
Take for example Eoghan Harris's piece, 'Irish Muslims must speak frankly to allay majority fears'. Here, Harris invoked the notorious incursion of Algerian pirates and renegades into a little known village in west Cork in 1631, as a means of shaping the argument that Ireland's only experience of Islam has been negative. As raids go, it was largely uneventful and had it not been for Osborne's poem it would most likely have disappeared into the annals of history. Two people died in the raid and the vast majority that were taken into captivity were in fact English settlers.
Ireland of course has had a number of dealings with Islam and Muslims throughout its turbulent history, a less publicised but nonetheless important event was that involving Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid. By 1847, the Great Irish Famine had decimated the populace, resulting in over 1,000,000 deaths. The Ottoman Sultan declared his intention to send 10,000 pounds to alleviate the suffering of the Irish but Queen Victoria would only allow the Sultan to send 1,000 pounds, (because she had sent only 2,000). The Sultan sent the 1,000 but also secretly sent five freighter ships full of food, which Queen Victoria tried to block, nevertheless the aid successfully arrived at Drogheda harbour. Why Harris chose to highlight the events in Cork over and above those of Drogheda bespeaks an anti-Muslim agenda, an agenda to which two other Irish Independent writers, Kevin Myers and Ian O'Doherty, have fully subscribed.
Myers anti-Muslim racism is apparent to all and celebrated on many supremacist sites. Among his many vitriolic attacks against Muslims, most notable are his 'Forget lily-livered liberalism, time to take a stand and say we don't want Muslim immigrants' where he casts all Muslim doctors in Ireland as potential terrorists. And his 'EU inaction breeds contempt in a dictatorship of floggers', wherein he states that Islamic societies specialise in torture and degradation, calls the Muslim leaders of Saudi Arabia heathen barbarians, and describes Muslim ethics as 'diseased' and 'demented'. In July 2008, the Immigrant Council of Ireland brought a case of incitement to hatred against Myers for extremely distasteful and racist comments made against Africans. A subsequent ruling found the comments offensive however ineptitude and administrative prevarication prevented a full charge and Myers unfortunately continues to write.
O'Doherty's infantile musings, though not quite on a literary par with Myers, nonetheless serve to feed the public a constant stream of anti-Muslim racism and hate.
Thankfully, Muslims in Ireland have awoken to the threat that the likes of Myers, O'Doherty and by extension the Irish Independent pose to their well being and peaceful existence and as a direct result, Muslims in Ireland are becoming more politically active.
MPACIE is a sister concern of the UK's foremost Muslim advocacy organisation MPACUK. Together we hope to empower the Muslim community through a system of media monitoring, political lobbying and grass-roots community and institutional activism. Our aim is simple; we want the same rights as our non-Muslim counterparts.
If you believe that you should be treated as an equal in all aspects of Irish society, then join us and help us make it a reality.
You can find out more about us by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org