Lecturer warns of anti-Muslim ‘network’ after anonymous threats

UCC academic Amanullah De Sondy says caller told him: ‘I hope you are executed’

Amanullah De Sondy, senior lecturer In contemporary Islam at UCC. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision/UCC

Amanullah De Sondy, senior lecturer In contemporary Islam at UCC. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision/UCC

 

A lecturer at University College Cork (UCC) has made a complaint to the Garda after receiving an Islamophobic death threat on Wednesday.

Dr Amanullah De Sondy, a senior lecturer in contemporary Islam at the university since 2015, said he received a voicemail from an unknown individual, who called the academic a “scumbag”, and a “terrorist”.

Dr De Sondy said the caller told him he “must stop lecturing the Irish on how they should live their life”, adding: “I hope you are executed”.

Speaking on Wednesday evening, Dr De Sondy said he received a similar voicemail in 2017 but the culprit had never been caught.

“Today’s message was scarier in that it called for execution,” he told The Irish Times. “I didn’t want to go public the last time but this time I just felt it would be unacceptable for someone to do this and just get away with it.

“The message was horrible, telling me to go back where I came from and that Islam is this and that. It just made me think that this is why I do what I do. I try to create awareness and make people think critically about Islam.”

While a spokeswoman for the Garda said the force did not comment on named individuals, Dr De Sondy said he had made a complaint and received some advice in relation to his personal safety.

“I’ve had a conversation with the gardaí who have told me to be vigilant, so that’s what I’ll do,” he said. “There isn’t much I can do if someone wants to cause real harm. I don’t know how you stop them.”

The UCC lecturer said he believed Islamophobic abuse and attacks were being fuelled by a “sophisticated network” of individuals whose rhetoric was being acted upon by a broader set of individuals.

“What people are putting out there is impacting people who don’t have any brain cells and driving them to do things like this,” he said. “I think there’s a very sophisticated network of hate.

“When you constantly hear these very negative things about Muslims and people who look like Muslims, it inspires some people to do things, whether it be to take someone’s headscarf off or to make a death threat. That’s really worrying for me.

“In the last few days I’ve been speaking up against Islamophobia and how we need to speak out against all forms of hate. There is a fringe group of people who are very vocal who are driving this kind of behaviour.”

Dr De Sondy also said it was time to reflect on the concept of Ireland as a place where racism and hatred did not exist.

“People ask me why I moved to Cork to teach Islam as there are not that many people doing it,” he said. “I love Ireland. I’m from Scotland. I moved here with all sorts of strange and romantic notions of Celtic connections.

“We need to reflect on this idea that Ireland and the Irish don’t harbour any kind of hatred,” he said. “Come on. We need to counter this idea that everything is grand.”

A spokesman for UCC said: “UCC has a duty of care to its staff and will be examining this matter with the staff member.”