Monday, April 4, 2016

(Dún an) Doras Luimní: Closing the door on reality

I am appalled by the reactionary response from Doras Luimní to the Limerick Post’s asylum centre article, I had expected more from a professionally run organisation that seeks to promote and uphold the human rights and well-being of migrants than histrionic indignation; rather than being measured and reasonable, their statement  seems to be almost ideologically inspired.

There is no need for Doras Luimní to liaise with the relevant authorities with regard to an investigation;  anyone that cares to read the Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act (1989) will see that neither the Limerick Post nor their whistle blower were trying to incite hatred, the article did not broadcast  “threatening, abusive or insulting” material and was not published with the intent “that hatred would be likely to be stirred up”. 

There were absolutely no “racist comments” made, as claimed by Doras Luimní.

Mian Mujahid Ali Shahid

The article did present facts and evidence in the form of testimony from “Ivan” (an employee at a Direct Provision Centre) and in recounting the case of Mian Mujahid Ali Shahid, a convicted (in his absence) sex offender fleeing from justice in Scotland who “was fed, given protection and social allowance in one of the direct provision hostels in Limerick prior to his arrest and deportation” last year.

The article tells us that Ivan is from the Middle-East, I would suspect that he is also Muslim as he claimed to have had intimate conversations with some direct provision residents that he felt had “…a worrying level of extremism, bordering on hatred, which could potentially manifest in some sort of devastating way, as their numbers will continue to rise”.

Perhaps these Irish Muslim leaders are also being “racist” with their “anti-extremist declaration”.

Some have dismissed their declaration as little more than virtue-signalling, but at the very least it is a signifier of the concern that exists amongst Irish Muslims that extremists might establish a more sure foothold here.

All of the Muslims I know share those concerns. Every single one of us should share those concerns, especially Doras Luimní; if they are truly concerned about vulnerable refugees living in direct provision that came here to escape such extremists then they should seek to ensure that they don’t have to share their refuge with extremists. If there is to be any investigation it should be into Ivan’s allegations.

What appalled me most about Doras Luimní’s statement was not so much the lazy and false accusations of “racism”, but their own incitement of hatred directed towards direct provision workers by labelling them as unqualified and as “racist”; their job is trying enough without being made a target for far-left fascists.

Doras Luimní claims that throughout their 16-years of working with asylum seekers that they have “never been alerted to any suspicions of radical Islamic extremism in Direct Provision centres”.  Why would they be alerted? They are not the relevant authority. I would urge Ivan, (if he hasn’t already done so) to make an official statement to the Gardaí.

By the way, Islam is not a race, it is a religion and like other religions its followers are from all races and ethnic backgrounds. When someone experiences discrimination because of their religion it is not called racism, it is called sectarianism.  Ivan wasn't being sectarian either.

It should also be pointed out that Islam is not a homogeneous religion, there are over 72 sects and plenty of sectarianism between them; in their blood thirsty quest to establish a theocratic Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, the multi-national Islamic State have killed mostly Muslims for belonging to the wrong sect in their view.

Ivan also claims that “there are cheaters in the direct provision system getting protection and privileges that they don’t deserve”.  This does not surprise me and it is not the first time I have heard such a charge. A friend of mine (originally from North Africa, now an Irish citizen) that used to volunteer for Doras Luimní a few years ago was of the exact same opinion; he was of the view that many of those he encountered were chancers that should be deported.

It is absolutely disgraceful that asylum seekers can wait years for a decision to be made regarding their status and Doras Luimní is right to advocate for a time limit of 6 to 9 months, but once a decision is made the appropriate action should be taken, including deportation.

Doras Luimní rightly states that “the media has an enormous responsibility to provide their readers with balanced and factual material”.  However, the media also has a duty to publish stories that are in the public interest and in this case the Limerick Post should be commended for bringing this to our attention, not condemned.

The article was just another knock on the door from reality and Doras Luimní has damaged its credibility by adopting this slamming position, which is doing a great disservice to the very people that they advocate for. 

Shooting the messenger has never proved productive and ignoring or denying the reality that there is a problem will not make it go away. If we don't open the door and address it directly it will eventually come crashing in on us and when that happens it will be too late for reasonable discourse and dialogue.

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