Irish Islam and the unspoken problem of integration…

The situation in the UK viz a viz the radicalisation of Islamic youth is clearly much further on than it is in Ireland, north or south. The discussion of the veil controversy (video file) on a recent edition of the Late Late Show accordingly had an air of unreality about it. Mary FitzGerald, has been out and about amongst Irish muslims, asking them for their estimation on both sides of the border.Several of her sources, requested their names not be released, but had some interesting observations to make:

“With certain imams in Ireland, it’s more a problem with what they don’t do rather than what they do,” said another Muslim man living in Dublin.

“When an attack or bombing involving Muslims happens, there are some imams who fail to condemn it at prayers. I accept that they are not encouraging or praising this kind of thing like some clerics in Britain do, but they should be the first to condemn and set an example.”

Another man extended the same argument to the issue of integration.

“There are some mosques that never talk about integration and I think that is wrong. They are not talking against it but they are not talking about it either. It’s an important subject that affects every Muslim living in Ireland and I think it should be discussed more.”


  • seabhac siulach

    Can I say that I would not be hopeful of integration succeeding in the case of newly arrived Muslim immigrants, when in the last 400 years there has been an almost complete failure of integration between those of Scottish/English ancestry in the six counties and the native Gaelic population. We are suffering since from the inability of any meaningful integration to take place (and this is perhaps a lesson for the future re the muslims now arriving). For example, there is not much sign of integration if 400 years on there are still clearly separate ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’ towns and villages. For integration to take place, the incoming peoples as well as those already there first of all need to be willing to integrate and this is unlikely to happen when religion is involved (leading to separate schools, morality and, hence, behaviour, etc.) For integration to succeed, faith based schools, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Muslim must be restricted and central govt. funding only given to those that provide a secular education for children of all faiths.

  • Ermintrude

    Broadly in agreement. At least the note of smugness in the exhortations of non-Muslim Britons for Muslims to do more ‘integrating’ can’t be echoed here (without accompanying howls of derision).

  • This is well worth watching, especially the Muslim’s lady’s final smackdown, to loud applause, of John Silly Man Waters. The main point that comes across is Pat Kenny just wanted a circus with Ruth DE speaking, like a frightened old dear, on behalf of all at the beginning; Eamonn NcCann raving like a nutter (he should cover his bald plate himself). The piece had too much noise, in the form of those three unrepresentative people.
    Wearing the veil is part of Muslim culture as anyone who travelled in Afghanistan prior to 1979 would know (contrary to the show),
    Be all that as it may, I stand over my comments in the other thread. Prepare to embrace a new future with new alliances and new fault lines.
    On that, McCann stopped writing for The Blanket because they showed the Danish cartoons (after the storm had passed). If this was a socio-religious debate McCann and the other two trolls should have stayued out of it. But it was no such thing. It was a weak circus with a very weak ringmaster, Herr Kenny. Mary Kenny would have been a better host in this case.
    Islam is the next big thing. Better learn to live with it. Amazing how organising communities are always resented. And, as for the Israeli apologists, there is no Punch without Judy.

  • eranu

    i think alot of the western problem with the veil is a subconscious fear or suspicion of someone in a black robe with their face covered. historically in western society black is a colour associated with evil. and i think people are familiar with stories of things like the ghostly highway man in a black robe with a hood pulled over his face to hid it etc. I think it’s the whole imagery of concealment that causes unease in the western mind.
    ive seen photos in papers recently of a couple of women wearing black veils with only their dark (brown) eyes peaking out. i couldnt help thinking that it was selected because it makes them look sinister to the western mind.
    Personally i believe in Christianity and that all these other religions are false religions. but i do think we should respect peoples customs and let them do what they need to do to follow their beliefs. Its only if its illegal, or breaks health and safety rules, or causes some sort of practical problem, that we should consider a ban or restriction. This is supposed to be a free and tolerant society after all !

  • Dawkins rants on about burkas on pp362 et seq of The God Delusion. It must be in the air.

  • Greg

    How can TheGeorge say that McCann was “raving like a nutter”. I thought he was brilliant – straight to the point, that the ‘debate’about the veil is a side-issue, that it’s really part of the ‘war on terror’. Think most people in the audience agreed with him.

    BTW, McCann made clear in advance of The Blanket publishing the cartoons that he would not in future write for it, precisely because he saw the cartoons also as part of the ‘war on terro’. From that point of view, the debate on Late Late was not ‘socio-religous’ but clearly political.

  • Patty

    If clothes speak a language which never shuts up then the veil is shouting:

    “Submission for Women!”
    I’m not Muslim so why should it matter to me?

    The reason it matters is that Islam, unlike Christianity, is political as well as religious. And “submission for women” is not a political message I agree with.

  • lib2016

    Christianity is not political? If only…..! Moreover many people would see Christianity as profoundly opposed to feminism in all it’s forms.

  • Ermintrude

    What makes me despair is that of all the stomach-turning things that happen to women because they are women all around the world, backed up by religious or other philosophies, the only thing anyone here can really manage to get worked up about is what women wear.

  • Patty

    lib2016: “Moreover many people would see Christianity as profoundly opposed to feminism in all it’s forms.”

    Yes, but Christianity -in this day and age – does not have ambitions to impose a global caliphate on people. Islam does. Shar’ia law, based on the koran, is seen by islamists, to supercede all other bodies of law. This is the crux of the current debate/battle being fought around you.

    The Iranian revolution might seem another time and place, but consider it for a moment. When the fundamentalist islamists took over the govt. in the 70’s, the veil was imposed on women. Similar issues and struggles are now popping up in the UK.

  • Patty

    Ermintrude: you despair over the supposed superficiality of the issue, but like the cartoon kerkuffle, the veil debate is, in fact, a front in the war being fought between radical islamists and Westerners. It’s not about fashion.

    The cartoons were not about hurt feelings. It was about free speech. Do people have the right to criticize Mohammed and Islam?

    The veil is not about one woman’s “right” to wear a tent – it’s about the acceptability of Shar’ia, radical islamic edicts, REQUIRING women to cover themselves. Is this acceptable in the UK?

  • Greg: Maybe it is the format. The Muslim lady was the best speaker. She was the only one fo the four who wore a veil. I loved her smackdown of Waters, RDE was, well, “odd” and McCann, to me at least, did rave. I did not necessarily disagree with what he said about the Crusades of the Bush family but it was off topic to the way Muslim women dress. It was a good stroke to have an articulate Muslim on but, in the end, it was just cheap edutainment with Pat Kenny appearing as clueless as ever.
    And, as regards Christianity, having seen the raving lunatics in the USA, I could almost accept Paisley as “normal”. I was listening to one today, “The God who never was” and I thought, before seeing the pictures of the preachers, it was a mickey take. But no. Those Christian lunatics believe Jews are damned etc. I also saw a bit of the Slasher movie, the Pasison of the Christ. Man, anyyone – and there are tens of millions – who gets off on that needs help.

  • Brian Boru

    Well what did France do to deserve the Islamist riots in 2005? What was wrong with their foreign-policy? I accept that that the UK and US are more in the line of fire because of an admittedly reckless foreign-policy that even US voters are frustrated with. But I also think we would be deluding ourselves if we allow ourselves to think our neutrality makes us safe from Islamist extremism. On the News tonight they are talking about US files which apparently reveal that AQ and other Islamic terrorist groups have a presence in the Republic. I think PCness has contributed to this issue not being taken seriously. It was reported some time ago that AQ figures gained Irish citizenship here. This is utterly unacceptable. We cannot allow Ireland to become a base for Islamist terrorists. And if they are not targeting Irish people yet, maybe that’s partly because they are waiting in the long grass until the Muslim numbers in the Republic reach critical mass before a power-grab attempt can be tried in terms of trying to force us under Sharia law.

    I am not tarring all Muslims with the one brush. But there is a huge gulf in values between the West and Islam and there is no point glossing over this in the name of happy-clappy Political-Correctness which prioritises a fear of causing offence over tackling issues that urgently need to be addressed. I think letting Turkey into the EU would be madness, and would rapidly bring the day of “critical mass” forward. The Turks may seem a secular people but polls say otherwise – BBC some time ago reported on their website(approx.) 38% support honour killings of unfaithful wives while around 25% support mutilation in such cases. The Turkish military are all that stand between a secular Turkish state and an Islamist theocracy – remember that the ruling-party has Islamist roots and mooted banning “adultery” some time ago but was forced to back off. The Turkish military can hardly keep its citizens in line when they come West though. So no to Turkey in the EU. We need to avoid Middle Eastern Islamist fundamentalists running their own schools by exploiting our denominational education system. The last thing we need are Muslims growing up here getting brainwashed with anti-Western hate thereby sowing the seeds of terrorism. I call for the secularisation of the Southern education system by replacing our denominational system with compulsory integrated education – even if I recognise trying the same in the North would be difficult because of a more complex societal and political situation.

  • Patty

    TheGeorge: Fundamental “crazy” Christians are thrown up whenever radical islam is questionned or criticized; this is a strawman argument designed to lead away from the subject at hand. Radical Christians today aren’t intent on violently instituting Christian rule anywhere. But unfortunately, there are radical muslims who are intent on instituting islamic caliphate, through any means possible.

  • Patty: Check out the Big Crusader in the White House. Anne Coulter said it all when she spoke of invading their ocuntry and converting them to Christianity. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    I think anyone who watched the Despatches debate on Channel 4 tonight will be left in no doubt as to where Britain is heading on the ‘Islam is beyond criticism’ issue.
    Having taken a vote in the studio audience on whether Jon Snow the presenter should show the Danish cartoons (which he claimed to be holding in his hand), a majority (69%) voted for him to do so. He then immediately copped out by saying that Channel Four didn’t feel it was appropriate.
    Hilarious. We’ve recently seen ‘Jerry Springer The Opera’ portraying Jesus as a nappy-wearing homosexual on British TV, but a few crap cartoons about Mohammed are too tough to handle? Hello?

    Muslims represent approx. 3% of the UK population, or to put it into context, roughly the same percentage as Protestants in the Republic. Yet their religion is above ridicule whilst the ‘official’ religion of the UK is treated as a joke.
    Why is this? Well of course we know why. Insult Islam in any way and you get riots, violent street demonstrations, death threats and hysterical demands for an apology. Or in an extreme case (a Dutch film director) you get murdered. Violence and the threat of more violence works. And of course we all know that better here in the North/Northern Ireland/The Occupied Six Counties (delete as applicable) than anyone else.
    So surprise surprise, religion isn’t all about loving your neighbour and peaceful respect, it’s actually about the right to be above criticism, to subjucate women and gay people through 4th century ideals and promoting peace through violence, whilst speading a message of medieval non-democratic delusional tribalist hate-filled bile.
    And being a supposedly neutral nation stuffed with Roman Catholics (led by that bad man the pope who had the temerity to criticise Islam) isn’t likely to improve multi-cultural relations in the years to come.
    Remember this is a group whose religion and lifestyle is incompatible with democracy, who tacitly approve of targeting civilians in suicide attacks, who believe that women are so bereft of respect that they must be covered up in public and who regard the ridiculing or criticism of their ‘faith’ as an action worthy of execution.
    Should they be allowed to set up their own ‘faith schools?’ Should their intolerance be tolerated?
    The challenge to democracy is being thrown down. How should we answer?

  • Brian Boru

    I don’t understand why Muslim immigrants are constantly called “Irish Muslims” by the media when very few of them were born in Ireland. No-one is calling the 100,000 Poles down here “Irish-Poles” so could the media plz stop being silly. To me an “Irish Muslim” is a native born Irish citizen who is Muslim.

  • Women should be allowed to wear what ever they want.

  • Hugh Heffner

    Are we not guilty of double standards here in the west?

    If a woman insists on wearing nothing at all she will likely be arrested anywhere outside a segregated nudist area.

  • abucs


    “Women should be allowed to wear what ever they want”.

    I have a lot of sympathy with that view. But i guess there are valid points on both sides.

    In a secular state “people can do whatever they want as long as they don’t affect other people”.

    Sounds great, except we have an effect on other people no matter what we do.

    It is still part of the culture in many of the immigrant countries to dress “modestly”. I think it is both a religious and cultural expression and i would not criticise anyone for wanting to dress modestly.

    But of course, if you are brought up to believe wearing the veil is a sign of modesty and respect, some cannot get away from the thinking that women who do not wear veils are not being modest and don’t deserve respect. Which has further implications on how you see the wider society.

    In Australia now, there are also problems with some young muslim male students and non veil wearing female teachers. There is a lack of respect towards them and they have no authority over the students, especially in state schools where the population is overwhelmingly muslim. (There are many such schools as the muslim community is a concentrated one). There is also a clash of cultures where the pupil is being told what to do and think (literally).

    The girls in Australia also wear a lot less (especially in summer time) and so the differences is much more stark. If you are brought up with your mother, aunts and sisters wearing veils and the local ‘aussie’ is much more ‘liberated’ (for want of a better word) and she wears make up and tank tops and mini skirts, and being seductive is simply ‘a bit of fun’ – well then there are problems.

    Something has to give. One mindset or the other has to give, otherwise there will never be a unity of people and bad things will and do happen. I feel for muslims who emigrate because they are caught in two cultures. A community religious one and an individualistic secular one.

    Many believe they are being “forced” to abandon their mindset. We can see the results of this in young British men that hit out at their wider community as a way of coping.

    Granted, this is the extreme case. But it is evidence of real alienation and disagreements. Something is not working there.

    So if you don’t do anything then there are two separate worlds happening side by side as the British MPs have stated. We all know in NI where that can lead to.

    On the other hand if you try and pass laws against it you get the silly situation where you can go down to Bondi beach where there are topless sun bathers, but if you wear a veil to the Bondi shops you get prosecuted ?

    This to many traditional conservative immigrants will look like enforced immorality and they will view their new home as being completely morally bankrupt.

    What to do ? I’m not making a definite case either way, it will be interesting to see how secularism handles this situation.

    I personally think the idea of “you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t affect other people” is being found wanting. Therefore, i think issues like this are a challenge to secularism.

    If you don’t do anything there there are quite obviously problems. If you try to pass laws or ridicule such behaviour then the secular axiom of “you can do what you want” is being breached.

    With small numbers of immigrants the issue is much reduced and the core culture triumphs. With larger immigrant populations as in parts of England and Paris it doesn’t triumph. The issues are magnified and possible beyond control IMHO.

  • abucs

    For completeness sake i should also recognise that many Muslim immigrants take to secularism like a duck to water. But that this doesn’t negate the very real underlying difficulties that many others face and react to.

  • Harry Flashman

    I would never dream of banning the veil (why is it called a veil by the way? I understood a veil to be a light diaphanous piece of cloth which shades the face, whatever the heck those burlap sacks are they ain’t veils), but should someone wish to wear it they should be fully prepared for the consequences.

    They cannot drive vehicles.

    They cannot enter sensitive security areas.

    They cannot teach nor be taught at publicly funded schools.

    They cannot work in publicly funded institutions.

    All of the above would apply to anyone wishing to wear a balaclava, their wish to do so will be respected but they must live with the consequences.

    None of the above apply to wearing a head scarf.

    PS Eamon McCann is a clown whose views on 98.7% of all issues (including what he should have for his tea) are completely ludicrous.

  • DK

    Yes Harry, but then you get them forming their own separate society apart from everyone else where they can teach/be taught – and you can guess that the curriculum would just enforce their division from the rest of society.

    Essentially, the moslems would end up like the Amish: self-isolated from a society rapidly passing them by; but unlike the Amish, they would still attempt to interact with that society and this would inevitably lead to misunderstandings & conflict.

    So you need to ensure that the muslim society is not isolated and there need to be pro-active methods to do this, such as banning faith schools. Even some sort of national service (not neccessarily military) for the young might at least get them to see other cultures and interact with others rather than sealing themselves off.

    As a side issue, why is this woman even getting a job – I thought that extreme muslims were against the idea of females working & that along with the veil they should not be allowed out of the house except in other female company during daylight hours. Sounds like picking the veil, but not other bits of the religion is a bit hypocritical.

  • cir qh’els

    Islamic Republic of Ireland anybody?

  • Unveiled

    McCann is McCann. He always fights his corner and does it well. Can’t say the same for the other clown who made sure the argument against publishing the cartoons was lost the minute he opened his mouth on BBC Radio. Chris is right but does not explore the limits – women should wear want they but what if we want to go without wearing anything in the street? Are we to be forced to clothe?

  • Hugh Heffner

    “women should wear want they but what if we want to go without wearing anything in the street? Are we to be forced to clothe?”

    Try it

    You’ll be arrested


    You’ll be locked up

  • Unveiled

    HH, you are right. There are laws which compel us to do some things. If they say I must wear some item of clothing and I choose to wear a clear plastic bag I will be placed in front of a judge. We can’t just wear what we want. McCann was brilliant on the Kenny debate. His point about Blair wearing a mask was well scored.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Yes it’s a fair point that public nudity is a no-no pretty much worldwide, despite the fact that everyone, whether religious or not, is born naked, a state presumably intended by the creator.
    Clothing is of course a general necessity for survival in most climates, and for 99% of the population hides a multitude of sins, but the case for it being obligatory outside of extremely limited designated nudist areas would appear to be a difficult one to defend.
    If the law adopts the ‘sexual defence’ that people strolling around naked is liable to lead to raging sexual urges being unleashed, they are merely using a variation of the Islamic idea that women should be fully covered to prevent men becoming lustful. Equally, from a practical viewpoint, this notion is nonsensical as nudist areas do not result in orgies or rapes and girls strolling down their main street in a vest and skimpy shorts on a hot day has an equally negative result in terms of recorded sex crimes.
    Therefore the argument from a sexual or ‘modesty’ standpoint is impossible to defend in the context of ‘banning the burka’ and merely comes across as gross hypocrisy.
    I personally can think of no other possible legal reason for outlawing public nudity other than perhaps protecting the innocence of small children (from what?)
    Having said all that, the inevitable consequence of permitting public nudity would sadly not result in a parade of gorgeous people down your local high street. Personal experience informs that the young and attractive are the least comfortable with their own shape, and we’d be left with a bunch of saggy sixty year-olds flaunting it all round Tescos.

    As regards the ‘burkas/veils’ debate, the general western objection appears not to be the actual garments themselves, but their perceived symbolism as objects of subjucation and primitive religious dogma. On this level there occurs an unbridgable gap of civilizations, but attempting to legislate for the enforced removal of these garments in all or certain social situations will inevitably lead to charges of hypocrisy in the mirror-image of public nudity legislation.
    Nobody said multi-culturalism would be easy.

  • Byzer

    “But of course, if you are brought up to believe wearing the veil is a sign of modesty and respect, some cannot get away from the thinking that women who do not wear veils are not being modest and don’t deserve respect. Which has further implications on how you see the wider society.”

    I think you’re missing a trick here. The majority of Muslim women in the UK who wear the veil were not actually brought up to believe it necessary and normal. This “radicalisation” amongst both sexes is mostly a young person’s game and dates largely from the 11th of September 2001. It’s largely a defensive reaction to the whole “war on terror” thing, perhaps not entirely dissimilar to the reaction of unionism to the first Drumcree march being blocked as a denial of what they considered to be their cultural rights.

    You’re missing a whole lot of context.