A report has found that anti-Muslim racism is an “established reality” in Ireland, including on-street physical violence.
According to the report, drawn from focus groups of 66 Muslim men, women and children living in Dublin, some participants were verbally abused or assaulted in public by assailants shouting “Allahu akbar”, making references to Islamic State, or, in one case, asking the question: “Are you Bin Laden’s wife?”
Public spaces including public transport, shops, and restaurants are also referenced in claims of discrimination. According to the report: “There is a distinct security theme emerging in this study in the manner in which Muslim women, predominantly, are pursued in shops and shopping malls, mainly by security guards but also by shop staff.”
There is also criticism of the gardaí, including “a specific experience of being singled out for attention by a member of An Garda Síochána while others were ignored” and “a perception among Muslim communities that gardaí will treat ‘their own’ (read as white, Irish, and Catholic) better than those perceived as ‘other’ ”.
The report also reflects the view of participants that Muslims are “homogenised” and that younger Muslims born and bred here can feel excluded even when they strongly identify as being Irish.
The report, entitled ‘Islamophobia in Dublin — Experiences and How to Respond’, was written by James Carr of the Department of Sociology in the University of Limerick.
In the foreword, Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said there was an “urgency” attached to addressing the issues, considering two mosques, as well as private properties were subjected to graffiti and bricks thrown through the windows during the period of the research.
The report also found that some participants do not trust the Irish media, particularly with regard to a perceived oversimplification of issues such as the war in Syria, and the idea that Irish and Muslim were mutually exclusive terms.
The report also claims there is a level of discrimination experienced within the school system, either through limited access to education in the first place or regarding the teaching of religious education. In some cases, it is claimed the discrimination is more explicit, referring to allegations of abuse from other students and staff.
As for employment, the report outlines people’s claims of discrimination, including “a number of issues emerged that centre on religious identity, either in the form of religious dress or through the identification of a person as Muslim on the basis of their name”. Access to employment is cited as being difficult, alongside claims of discrimination in the workplace.
However, the report also shows that many of those interviewed have a strong bond with Ireland and with Dublin as their home city.
The report, which is to be published today, contains a raft of recommendations, including a call for the swift implementation of hate crime legislation.
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