Independent Hamed seeks to represent not just Muslims

 

CANDIDATE:AN INDEPENDENT candidate in Dublin South, who sought asylum in Ireland in the 1990s because of his involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, has said he does not want his election campaign to be defined by his faith.

“I am not just a Muslim candidate. I want to represent everybody. My faith has nothing to do with my campaign,” Hussein Hamed said yesterday.

“I am one of the new Irish and I believe we should be integrating in a positive way. I can act as a bridge between the new Irish and the wider community.”

Born in Libya, Mr Hamed (49) first came to Ireland in 1983 to complete an aviation course at Dublin airport. He returned to Libya in 1988 but fled a decade later. “I had no other choice due to the political repression in Libya at the time,” he said.

He and his Libyan wife claimed asylum in Ireland. They have six children, four of whom were born in Ireland. The family lives in Dundrum.

Mr Hamed works in an administrative role at the Muslim Association of Ireland (MAI), which is an affiliate of the Brussels-based Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe. This is an umbrella organisation of various branches and affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood’s European network. The MAI is based at a mosque in Tallaght.

Mr Hamed says his campaign hinges on three main issues: integrating migrants; rolling back cuts to the education sector; and safeguarding old-age pensions.

“I am very concerned about the education cuts in the last budget. Our children are our main resource and cutting back on their education will only further weaken our economy in the long term,” he said. “Regarding pensions, our senior citizens built this country, they brought us out of the 1980s recession, and they paid their taxes. So why should they suffer now?”

Mr Hamed said he had received a “very positive” response while canvassing.

“People have told me it’s nice to see a new face in Irish politics.”