Do not abuse free speech principles to smear asylum seekers and Muslims, says IRC and ENAR Ireland

Posted On: April 5, 2016

MEDIA STATEMENT, 5 April 2016

The article in the Limerick Post on 1st April 2016 (‘Limerick asylum centre worker claims extremists have infiltrated the system Limerick’) contained accusations against unknown individuals living in Direct Provision centres in Limerick.  The words such as ‘extremist’, ‘gangs’, ‘radical Muslim men’, ‘radicals’, ‘worrying level of extremism, bordering on hatred’, ‘cheaters’, ‘radical minded economic migrants’, ‘false stories’, ‘radical culprits’ appeared with regular occurrence in the article.  These can be clearly classified as inflammatory remarks which have the potential, if not the intent, to label asylum seekers and particularly Muslim men in an extremely negative light that can only generate fear, suspicion and hostility.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said:

“There was clearly no balance or attempt to give ‘voice’ to any other actors beyond one individual and therefore no corroboration or counter to the sentiment expressed throughout the piece.  The fact that the article was based upon the statements of a worker in a Direct Provision centre is not sufficient justification to mitigate the accusation that the Limerick Post could be accused of inciting racial hatred.”

Conlan added,

“The attempt by the newspaper in a statement on 4th April 2016 to accuse a local NGO, Doras Luimní, of attempting to silence ‘the dissenting voice of a vulnerable immigrant worker’ is misplaced.  Equally, the assertion of evidence held by the Post, still not disclosed, does not appear to substantiate the allegations of radicalisation or threats by Muslims and does not diminish the paper’s responsibility for casting doubt upon a very wide group of people, many of whom are survivors of the type of abuse that they seem to accuse asylum seekers of.”

Shane O’Curry, Director of the European Network Against Racism Ireland, said

“I am extremely concerned about the article’s widespread use of uncorroborated statements from a single source to create and reinforce wide-sweeping generalisations about Muslims that are just not true. For example, the article reports a single source as saying ‘So many hardworking taxpayers, including myself, have been the victim of physical attacks and mental abuse by individuals and gangs of radical Muslim men’. The statement would leave one to believe that this is a common occurrence in Ireland.”

 

“The article also cites the same source as claiming that asylum seekers and human rights defenders are seeking more rights for asylum seekers than ‘some full Irish Citizens’.  Again this statement is plainly ludicrous, and yet is unchallenged, unverified against any authoritative source and uncorroborated, but is instead reported as fact.”

 

“The overall effect of the article” said O’Curry “ is to create an impression about Muslim asylum seekers and Muslims in general which resonates worryingly with European far-right discourses, that have been documented across Europe, about threats from Muslim ‘hoards’ and ‘gangs’ abusing our society and institutions, when the reality about Muslims in Ireland is the diametrical opposite. In fact, these far-right discourses are closely associated with a rise in physical attacks against Muslims across Europe. The Limerick Post needs to be mindful that it is not contributing to this.”

END

 

Notes

Limerick asylum centre worker claims extremists have infiltrated the system #Limerick (Limerick Post, 1st April 2016)

Doras Luimní statement in response to the Limerick Post article

#Limerick Post defends immigrant worker against attack by human rights group (Limerick Post, 4th April 2016)

Additional information:

“In August 2015, a man from Pakistan named Mian Shaid, who was convicted of two counts of sexual assault of an 18 year old girl at Stafford Crown Court in Scotland four months earlier, came to Ireland. He was fed, given protection and social allowance in one of the direct provisional hostels in Limerick prior to his arrest and deportation.” (Comment from the article titled ‘Limerick asylum centre worker claims extremists have infiltrated the system #Limerick’)

Mian Shahid fled the UK sometime in late 2015 and came to the Irish authority’s attention in August 2015 as a European arrest warrant had been issued for him. He was seen in the Limerick area and numerous news outlets reported this fact. On September the 1st 2015 he was arrested in Dublin airport as he tried to flee the country. There is no public record to say that Mian Shahid was ever in the asylum process or that he was a resident the Direct Provision system. It is highly unlikely that he was housed by the state in the Direct Provision where he “was fed, given protection and social allowance in one of the direct provisional hostels in Limerick prior to his arrest and deportation.”

The Reception and Integration should be able to offer clarification on this matter.