Irish Society Seen as Welcoming by Immigrant Muslims

October 14, 2005

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

On October 14, 2005 the Chicago Sun-Times reported, "The Muslim community, according to 2002 Irish census figures, numbers about 20,000 in the south of Ireland and, according to Irish Muslim leaders, is more like 25,000 in the south with another few thousand in Northern Ireland... Much of the dramatic increase came in a wave of refugees and asylum seekers from Eastern Europe and Africa in the mid-1990s, he said. The influx caused some friction at first, both within the broader Irish population and the Irish Muslim community itself. The newcomers looked different. They didn't speak English. And their culture was vastly different from anything traditionally Irish. Still, eventually, the new arrivals were welcomed warmly. 'It was a bit of a shaky time back then,' Al-Kaddo said, 'how to help them integrate positively and rightly, and, for me the most difficult task: making sure they knew how to distinguish between culture and religion. . . . To convince them of this took time'...'The society here is a welcoming society. We never felt -- even during Sept. 11, the London bombing and the Madrid bombing -- that we were blamed.' There were no real threats made to their mosques, no incidents of hate crimes against Irish Muslims, Al-Kaddo said. 'We never had such problems that made us feel like we are not welcome in this society.'"

See also: Islam, International