A European report on Islamophobia has referred to “worrying developments” in the treatment and perception of Muslims in Ireland.
The Irish chapter of the new European Islamophobia Report 2016 also criticises media coverage of events involving Muslims.
The Irish chapter of the report was written by James Carr, lecturer in sociology at the University of Limerick, who cited the lack of hate-crime legislation and the potential for exclusion of Muslims within the Irish education system.
He also wrote: “The past twelve months have witnessed, arguably, the most worrying developments on the political level, when it comes to anti-Muslim/Islam groups, including PEGIDA, and also the National Party, among others; including pronouncements by mainstream political actors.”
Referring to “a paucity of data” in relation to hate crime, Mr Carr said he wrote to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for figures on the number of incidents involving Muslims, but it was not available.
Instead, he refers to reports collected by the European Network Against Racism Ireland (ENAR), which this week released half-yearly figures. These show an increase in the number of reports of alleged racism it has received.
The report also referred to abuse on social media and of “problematic” reporting in mainstream media, with Mr Carr claiming that “even those articles that evidenced some nuance continue to co-locate the word “Islamic” with terms such as “terror attack”; “terrorists”; “extremists”.
Meanwhile, the president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, said he was “alarmed” by the reported weaknesses in criminal law in Ireland and in the training of gardaí in dealing with racism, and also by the level of statutory support for victims.
Responding to the ENAR’s Report of Racism in Ireland, Mr Kantor said: “I am alarmed by the data presented by the ENAR that highlights not just an increase in hate crime in Ireland, but weaknesses in the current system for dealing with racism and supporting victims.”