New Muslim group in Dublin to encourage engagement with politics

South Dublin Muslim Board was set up in anticipation of the general election

Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh and a member of the board: he said it was  planned to discuss candidates who might “serve the best interests of Muslims”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/ The Irish Times

Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh and a member of the board: he said it was planned to discuss candidates who might “serve the best interests of Muslims”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/ The Irish Times

 

Muslims in Dublin have formed a new group to encourage the community to become more politically active and to ensure greater engagement with politicians.

There has been no Muslim TD in Ireland since Moosajee Bhamjee served one Dáil term before standing down in 1997. He was elected a Labour Party TD for Clare in 1992.

The new South Dublin Muslim Board has nine members, from places such as Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Somalia, the Caucasus region, Jordan and Libya. It has been set up in anticipation of the general election and will hold its first public meeting at the Clayton Hotel in Leopardstown (formerly Bewleys Hotel) on January 15th at 7.45pm.

Candidates

Dr Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh and a member of the board, said it was also planned to hold a subsequent meeting at which they would discuss candidates who might “serve the best interests of Muslims”.

He emphasised however that the board would not tell people how to vote. Setting up the South Dublin Muslim Board was “very much related to the general election”, he said. Muslims in Ireland “have become integrated” and now the issue for them was of “partnership in society, of becoming active citizens”, he said.

Awareness

Top of the list of concerns among Irish Muslims, as with the rest of the population, was jobs, he said. More broadly, he noted, there were no Muslims in Ireland’s public service, where the cultural knowledge they would bring could be of great use.

Schools were also an issue, with just two Muslim schools in the State and no Muslim secondary school. The issue of admission where Muslim children and Catholic secondary schools in south Dublin were concerned had become acute in recent years, he said. In some such schools Muslim children were seventh on the list when it came to eligibility for admission.