President praises Islamic students' role in society


ISLAMIC STUDENTS make a “very positive contribution” to Irish society and its economy, according to President McAleese.

She said: “They are helping to advance the frontiers of science, medicine and research – it is their encouraging experience of Ireland that helps our higher education institutions compete for students and recognition in this globalised world.”

The President was speaking at a ceremony in Dublin to mark the ending of Islamic Awareness Week at the Royal College of Surgeons. She told her audience that “historically Ireland’s links with the world of Islam have been relatively modest.

“They have largely been forged by Muslim students from many countries who paid us the compliment of undertaking their academic and professional studies here. They have proved to be wonderful ambassadors not just for their countries, faith and culture but for Ireland for wherever they have gone in the world they have spoken well of us, opened doors to us and become voluntary advocates for Ireland.”

She said that “Ireland’s Muslim population, though still relatively small, has been augmented by inward migration and by a large international student population.

“It is important to acknowledge here the very positive contribution that Islamic students make to Irish society and to our economy.”

Mrs McAleese said “the Islamic and Muslim Student Societies are very active in colleges across the country, promoting awareness and fostering relationships across different cultures.

“That investment, which I hope is matched by a curiosity and a welcome from those who know little about Islam, is essential if we are to fully live our claim to be a place of many traditions.”

Islamic Awareness Week “plays an important part in educating our society about itself and its members. The spirit of this week is the path to understanding and I hope that as the week comes to a close more and more people will have joined the journey of mutual understanding which is so essential for the development of a tolerant, peaceful, safe and nurturing society,” she said.