Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ireland's Muslims, an Analysis

Do we have a problem with Muslims in Ireland ? In my opinion the answer is no. Unlike the British, French and Germans who have serious tensions with their Muslim minorities, who are predominantly Pakistani, Algerian, and Turkish respectively, Ireland appears to have escaped this problem. This is partly because there seems to be no dominant nationality among the 40,000 Muslims in Ireland. This has prevented the type of ghettoising that we see in London, Paris, Amsterdam and other European cities. It is for this reason that I can confidently say that there is virtually no extremism in Ireland and that the Muslim population here contribute to the country in a positive way.

However, this may not always be the case and I fear, particularly with the recession that some issues will eventually come to a head. One such issue appeared in last weekends The Sunday Times. A Lebanese man is taking a landmark High Court case demanding that the Irish state recognise his polygamous marriage. Now I am willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt that he is only attempting to rectify a potentially explosive domestic situation. When the man emigrated to Ireland the state only recognised one wife meaning the other was left behind. When the decision to deny the second wife entry into Ireland was successfully challenged it required the high court to rule on the validity of the second marriage. That decision is pending. Like I said, the poor guy might just be trying to avoid and exceptionally difficult family situation, particularly since he has children with both women. It is not so much this case (which will likely find some compromise without recognising both marriages) that has irritated me but the reaction of one particular lobby group, the Muslim Public Affairs Congress, led by Muslin convert Liam Egan. Egan has accused the Irish Government of discriminating against Muslims in polygamous families. This is an absurd claim but to use a highly loaded term like discrimination is highly irresponsible. In 2004 the Justice Department introduced a requirement that Muslims seeking citizenship must sign a form confirming that they had only one wife and would not marry a second. Egan claims that:

Ireland discriminates against against Muslims seeking citizenship by asking them to sign an affidavit. The state should not be interfering in families like this. It is silent on adulterous affairs but the moment you try to to do something honourable by bringing a woman into a marriage, even a polygamous marriage, there is an issue.

I have noticed Liam Egan popping in and out of this debate for some time now. I believe that he is essentially an agitator. He is looking to create tension where none exists. I have even heard him say that the Irish government is discriminating against Muslims because of its failure to build Mosques in the nation's towns and cities, a statement which is truly bizarre. Frankly, this guy is looking to cause trouble, he is not representing the Muslim community in Ireland in a positive way and I highly recommend that they disown him at the nearest opportunity. For now, I am sticking to my belief that Ireland's relationship with its Muslims is sound. I do not see this changing in the near future. However I do fear that the far left in this country are intent on instilling a victim mentality on non nationals, particularly Muslims and that this, in combination with agitation from the likes of Liam Egan could result in an increase in tensions. Gubu World will as ever keep an eye on this development.


Daniel said...

Why would the Irish Govt pay to build a mosque? The idea is insane! I'm a Lord of the Rings fan but I'm not looking to have the set of the Shire reconstucted for my personal endulgance at the expense of the state.

Ted Leddy said...

I am with you on this one Dan

I have been to some beautiful Mosque's around the world. And I have no problem with Muslims building their own places of worship here. But state funded Mosques, particularly in prominent locations, that's a definite no for me.

Anonymous said...

lay off lads. They should bring in a mosque tax, 2% of everyone's salary, deducted at source, like the income levy. The revenue for this should be ring-fenced for the construction of state of the art mosques. Nationwide. eoghan

Paul said...

'A Lebanese man is taking a landmark High Court case demanding that the Irish state recognise his polygamous marriage. Now I am willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt that he is only attempting to rectify a potentially explosive domestic situation. '

Ted, with all due respect this sounds naive. I mean what other motives could the man have? Well for one I would be very surprised if some Islamist body or other is not behind the legal challenge. Their motives are simple enough. Find an area of the law where Islam comes up against a secular ruling and challenge it. There have been literally hundreds of such cases in the UK and elsewhere. Sounds far fetched?

Only in several cases it has begun to work. Examples include that of Shebina Begum who took her school to court over disallowing her to wear 'Islamic dress'. Her case was supported by Hizb Ut Tahir of which her brother was a member.

Shebina Begum pen picture

The Case itself:

You may in fact already be familiar with these cases as a law student. I sincerely hope that Ireland's Muslims are well integrated and never represent an actual threat. However as you have already hinted with this Egan guy, who heads up an antagonistic grouping with dubious motives. A familiar pattern may be emerging.

Sorry to say it but my suspicions are that Ireland's Muslims may be innocuous due to their current small numbers. Rather than them representing a unique phenomenon; a well integrated community with no Islamist ambitions. I really hope I’m wrong and you’re right. But what is happening in the UK and elsewhere is scary. That being an aggressive campaign by Islamists, high terror threat, counter actions by racialist groups and a huge increase in anti-Semitism.

Ted Leddy said...


Sorry for late reply, I have been having some laptop issues.

Your description of our Lebanese friend's motives is probably accurate. I was merely giving him the benefit of the doubt because unlike Mr Egan, I know nothing about the man or his circumstances. I believe that therefore it is possible that he had honourable family intentions (bringing his second wife to Ireland), there is no doubt however that the issue has been seized upon by confrontational Muslim groups.

I was aware of the Shebina Begum case and like yourself believe that the situation in Britain and France is extremely serious.

Regarding your final point I share your concern that my assessment may be overly optimistic. I can only go by what I see. I have my finger very closely on the pulse of this situation in Ireland and have come across little cause for concern. As I said in my post though, my biggest concern is that the far left in this country will succeed in making Muslim immigrants feel persecuted. And that Muslim agitators will thrive on this leading to the type of unrest we see in England.