Launch of sacred places guide hears of bigotry

Members of Jewish community ‘disturbed’ by anti-Semitic slogans

The Crescent Moon above the Dublin Mosque on South Circular Road

Photograph: David Sleator

The Crescent Moon above the Dublin Mosque on South Circular Road , : Photograph: David Sleator

Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 00:40

Members of Ireland’s Jewish community were “highly disturbed” by the recent daubing of anti-Semetic slogans on the unfinished building in Dublin’s dockland that is to become headquarters of the Central Bank.

Interfaith forum Jewish representative Dr Melanie Brown said the community was felt that “some of our left-wing friends were involved.”

Jews had been in Ireland for more than 400 years, she said, and were “very integrated into the Dublin middle class.”

Despite this, there have been incidents at the city’s Jewish Museum, where a letter box was blown off a few years ago, she recalled. It meant, “security had to be stepped up at the synagogue in Terenure”.

Dr Brown was speaking yesterday at the launch, by RTÉ broadcaster and chairwoman of the Association of European Journalists, Eileen Dunne, of a guide to visiting sacred places in Dublin.

It was prepared by the Dublin City Interfaith Forum, which includes members of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh communities. Forum chairwoman Sinéad Lynch said Come and See would help people know what was expected in terms of conduct when visiting the now many, and diverse, sacred spaces in Dublin.

Ongoing difficulty
Several of those present at the Chester Beaty Library where the launch took place spoke of the problems facing faith minorities.

Ms Naseem Mehdi of the Islamic community, who has been in Ireland for 25 years, spoke of the ongoing difficulty in getting Muslim children into Christian-run secondary schools, where children of the prevailing ethos take precedence over those of other faiths.

Sikh Dr Jasbir Singh Puri, also in Ireland for 25 years, said his community intended to pursue admission to the Garda and Defence Forces for its men. It was “compulsory” for Sikh men to wear a turban he said and this was accepted by police forces in the UK, the US, and many other countries.

Last month, High Court Justice Mr Kevin Feeney dismissed a challenge by a Sikh man to Garda refusal to allow Sikh trainees for the Garda Reserve wear a turban while on duty. It meant Ravinder Singh Oberoi was unable to continue training. Dr Puri said his community intended taking up the matter with the Irish Human Rights Commission.

He, Ms Mehdi, and Dr Brown all spoke to this reporter after the launch of the Come and See guide. Others who spoke at the event included Mr Aksobhin Tracy of the Buddhist community, Methodist minister Rev John Stephens, with Catholic priest Fr Alan Hilliard as facilitator.