Islamophobia is on the rise in Ireland according to the latest statistics released by the country’s Immigrant Council.
Reports of abuse towards Muslims rose by 35 per cent in 2015, with the council reaching out to Ireland’s Islamic community for more information on racist abuse.
However, a human rights monitoring tool, iReport, which records racist incidents in the State, noted a drop in reports from 182 between June and December 2014 to 148 between January and June 2015.
But leading experts from anti-racism groups believes this is down to people failing to contact
authorities, rather than them not happening at all.
The Immigrant Council’s Teresa Buczkowska explained that despite the introduction of a Garda pulse system to record incidents of racism and hate crime, many people are reluctant to contact the police and lack confidence in the Irish justice system.
Shane O’Curry, director of European Network Against Racism Ireland, added:
“We suspect it’s because there was a certain amount of fatigue among people from ethnic minority backgrounds in reporting.
“People think there’s no point, that they won’t be believed, and in some cases they will be treated inappropriately.”
Mr O’Curry believes that more than three-quarters of racist incidents in Ireland go unreported.
When it comes to attacks on the Muslim community, Ms Buczkowska feels that people are now being targeted based on their religion, rather than just their appearance.
“People had already been contacting us about racism, but they weren’t identifying religion as a reason – it was more skin colour or being an immigrant,” she said.
“Then last year, something changed. People began contacting us with incidents based on the fact they were Muslims and religion started playing a bigger role in harassment and abuse.”
The situation is seemingly even more alarming in the United Kingdom, with hate crimes against Muslims in London said to have risen by 70 per cent last year.
Figures released by the Metropolitan Police showed 816 Islamophobic crimes for the 12 months up to July 2015, compared with 478 for the previous 12 month period.
As in Ireland, women, particularly those wearing veils and other traditional Islamic attire, were considered more susceptible to abuse, and were more likely to suffer from aggressive attacks.
Leaders in Muslim communities from both countries said it was the assumed affiliation with
terrorism that often leads to Islamophobic incidents.
Dr Umar Al-Qadri, Imam of the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre in Blanchardstown, said: “People need to understand that the vast majority of Muslims have nothing to do with Isis.
“We are victims of these extremists as well. Muslims are not enemies; they are allies in the fight against terrorism.”
And the Muslim Council of Britain has repeatedly released statements condemning terrorism under the banner of ‘not in our name’.
It even issued a full page advert in The Daily Telegraph following last November’s terror attacks in Paris to underscore this point.
For more information visit www.immigrantcouncil.ie