Muslims asked to remove headscarves for new Garda card


REPRESENTATIVES OF Ireland’s largest Sunni mosque have raised concerns over incidents in which a number of Muslim women were asked to remove their headscarves to comply with new identification procedures at the Garda National Immigration Bureau in Dublin.

The new procedures, which include a biometric fingerprint-capture system, were introduced in recent weeks.

A number of women subsequently informed the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland that they had been requested to remove their headscarves or hijab for photographs required for the new version of the registration certificate sometimes known as the Garda National Immigration Bureau or GNIB card.

The card, which features the holder’s name, photograph and other details, is proof that a person is legally resident in Ireland. The incidents did not involve women wearing the niqab or full-face veil.

“As we believe that observing hijab, an Islamic obligation, is a right guaranteed by international laws and Irish law, we contacted a Garda representative and discussed our concerns,” said Ali Selim, a senior member of staff at the centre, which is based in Clonskeagh, Dublin. “The Garda representative showed understanding and acted promptly. Soon afterwards he confirmed to us that Muslim women would not be asked to remove their hijab. We are grateful for this prompt response. This is the inclusive Ireland that we are proud to be part of.”

In a statement, the Garda press office said issues may arise when new procedures are put in place. “Management at the Garda National Immigration Bureau are committed to working with individuals and members of any community to address concerns in order to achieve satisfactory outcomes for all parties,” it said.