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 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
We would hope so considering he was photographed alongside other political parties in 2002, having proudly signed his name to the 'Know Racism Protocol for Political Parties'
(1). That was then, and perhaps it was 'politically expedient' for Mr Quinn to sign said protocols in 2002, but in 2007 he was singing a very different tune. To help readers map this transition and perhaps to refresh Quinn's very selective memory, let us outline the respective protocols that Quinn has obviously chosen to overlook:
1. To condemn any campaign materials or statements susceptible to incite hatred or express prejudice on the grounds of 'race', colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin, religious belief and membership of the Traveller Community.
2. To guarantee that when engaging in on-going debate in relation to groups which are the potential targets of racism, such as asylum seekers and refugees and Travellers, that such debate is conducted in a responsible way and with respect to the dignity and rights of minority ethnic groups.
3. To use appropriate and inclusive language and words when referring to people of different ethnic backgrounds, in order to avoid creating prejudice or confusion.Whenever there is a discussion on race, the usual bigots pip in and sarcastically ask, "What race are Muslims?" The
UNESCO Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice helps clarify this, Article 1.1 reads, "All human beings belong to a single species and are descended from a common stock. They are born equal in dignity and rights and all form an integral part of humanity." The old construct of race was a 'scientific' theory developed in the 18th century to justify colonisation and superiority based on the colour of one's skin.
Racism of course is not solely about colour, 'but prejudices concerning hierarchy, inferiority, and superiority drawn along racial or ethnic lines'. (2 )Ethnicity, and this is the crux of the matter, is defined as, 'a cultural community, often defined by a common history, language and traditions.' Indeed the 1976 Race Relations Act3 has identified 'a long shared history of which the group is conscious as distinguishing it from other groups, and the memory of which it keeps alive' and 'a cultural tradition of its own' as essential features of an ethnic group.
(4) It is for this reason that we would argue that both Muslims and Jews form distinct ethnic groups and under which they are entitled to protection afforded them in race relation acts. Which brings us back to Mr Ruairi Quinn.
On June 2nd 2008, Quinn treated Ireland to a tirade of anti-Muslim racism when he threw in his lot with a plethora of politicians who see the current anti-Muslim sentiment as a quick boost for what would otherwise be considered a mediocre political career. The object of his disdain was young Muslim schoolgirls, a relatively easy target for an unscrupulous, unprincipled politician.
Let us examine Quinn's statements reported in the Irish Independent against the protocols that he signed in 2002. "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," says Quinn. Overlooking his duplicitous attempts to project himself as a defender of Irish Christian values (sic!) against the Muslim hordes, he further states, "Nobody is formally asking them to come here. In the interests of integration and assimilation, they should embrace our culture," and finally, "Irish girls don't wear headscarves". There you have it, while the media predilection for lazy caricatures of Muslims as dark-skinned invaders may sell newspapers, one must ask why a politician would risk his political career with such an overtly racist statement.
Quinn has presented a belief that ALL Muslims are foreign, we are referred to as 'they', and the culture of Ireland, whatever that is, apparently does not include Muslims as Quinn is at pains to point out. Moreover, as if to reinforce his exclusionist stance, he insultingly adds, "Irish girls don't wear headscarves".Let us go back and look at the protocols that Quinn signed as the former Labour leader. In the first article its states, 'statements susceptible to incite hatred or express prejudice on the grounds of ... religious belief' should be condemned. Quinn has never apologised for his statements, in fact, in subsequent radio interviews he has pulled every racist trope from the book; misleadingly linking Islam with honour killings and forced marriages as well as painting Muslims as the instigators of societal unrest wherever it may be. The protocols clearly condemn such statements, but not only has Quinn not been condemned, no other party (and all parties signed the protocol) has issued ANY denunciation. Why? In the wake of Quinn's remarks, the Irish Independent comments section (since removed) was inundated with a level of racism and hate not seen since the rhetoric that gave birth to the Nazi final solution. A testimony to the fascist praise for Quinn's stance was his favourable mention on the notorious supremacist 'Stormfront' website. The second protocol references debates in relation to minority groups and cautions that such debates are 'conducted in a responsible way and with respect to the dignity and rights of minority ethnic groups.' Quinn neither acted responsibly, respectfully nor equitably in this debate. He used the media to disseminate a message of hate and distrust for Muslims. Again, there was silence on the part of his own political party and those in opposition. Why? Finally, the protocols encourage politicians to 'use appropriate and inclusive language and words when referring to people of different ethnic backgrounds, in order to avoid creating prejudice or confusion.' Quinn's language then and now has been inappropriate and exclusive ('them' and 'us') and if anything has sought to further marginalise and demonise a vulnerable community.We call on all political parties to publicly denounce this blatant and unashamed anti-Muslim racism, we implore the parties to publicly demonstrate their continued commitment to the protocols of 2002 and we request the Labour party to take strict measures to rein in its loose cannon. To our fellow Muslims, we remind you of the local council elections coming up in June 09, and we ask you to use your vote, especially those in the Dublin South constituency, to indicate your disapproval of Quinn's outbursts. You can make a difference, and when the next national election comes around; perhaps sooner than later, you can send a strong, effective message to those who seek to denigrate you. It is your right, it is your duty!
2 Breaking Down Barriers: Tackling Racism in Ireland at the level of the State and its institutions. AmnestyInternational (Irish Section) & The Irish Centre for Human Rights
3 United Kingdom Race Relations Act 19764 Ibid (emphasis mine)
Issued by: The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland Clonskeagh
Re: The Winding up of an Era of Anti-Racism
For many years the NCCRI has worked with the ethnic minorities in Ireland with abundant success, the 12 employees that have given their utmost support and professional advice, who have worked strenuously with the Dept of Justice and who over the years have gained the experience and knowledge of each unique ethnic group that can only come with experience, are about to be relinquished of their posts.This organization has worked on a minimal budget of 500,000 euro per year and yet they were deemed dispensable in Mr Lenihan's early October budget. The work of this organization is to be, quote:'absorbed', into the department of Integration, yet the people with the experience are not.In recognition of this tragic moment in time for ethnic minority groups in Ireland (whether religious or cultural ethnicity) and in a final show of support for the NCCRI the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland is pleased to announce that Mr Philip Watt, Driector of NCCRI, will officially launch 'Neighbours Week' at the Islamic Centre. Introducing the wondrous arts of French Calligrapher Salah Al Moussawi and the Intricate works of artist Shams Unnissa, Neighbours Week is part of the integration program of the Centre, a program that promotes dialog through the popular medium of the Arts. Date: Monday 10th November 2008Time: 10:30amVenue: Islamic Cultural Centre of IrelandThe ICCI will make a presentation to Mr Philip Watt in recognition of the great work his office has achieved over the years.
The link for video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HeayuZT-Zk
Sis Khadija /LorrainePS.