Ireland has rapidly become a multicultural and multiracial society. This upheaval gave platform to the existence of diversity of religions and ethics of various communities residing in Eire. The Muslim Modern existence in Eire can be traced back to the early 1950s. To a large extent it is difficult to get accurate statistics on Muslim population in Eire. However, according to the 1991 census, the number of Muslims was 3,873. Apparently the number of Muslim population was largely underestimated.
A substantial increase occurred to the Muslim population in 2002. According to the 2002 census Muslim population scored 19,147. The present population, according to the last census conducted in 2006, is estimated to be 32,000. Nevertheless, the true figure is a little bit more than 55,000. It is obvious that the Irish Muslim community has passed through a number phases involving changes, transitions and progress. Nevertheless, due to a number of difficulties and hurdles the Muslim political contribution can hardly be discerned in the Irish arena.
One of these obstacles is lack of motivation. At this point it should be marked clearly that creating this motivation and promoting it are a reciprocal responsibly that should be shouldered by Muslim organizations and leaders on one hand and Irish politicians on the other hand.
It is not fair to solely blame the Muslim community for their isolation with regard to the Irish political life. The Irish political system is supposed to take the initiative and encourage Muslim societal activities and cooperate with Muslims so that they can participate in all societal affairs and particularly the Irish political activities. However, few might argue to the contrary, but it is obvious that they are heedless of the fact that the ways for Muslim political participation are narrow with uneven surface and still not prepared enough to accommodate the Muslim participation. Their argument is usually manifested in their statements that endeavour to force Muslims to adopt assimilation that obliterate their distinctive identity.
Given the fact that Muslims, organizations, leaders and laymen, bear a portion, possibly huge and fundamental, of the responsibility for the Muslim political indifference, the politicians and the regulations still bear an essential portion thereof. There is no doubt that the regulations pertaining to citizenship and permission to stay in the state profoundly affect a section of the immigrants when it comes to their political interaction. These immigrants are concerned with the process of making decisions at various levels.
At this point it is worth mentioning here that motivating political participation in general constitutes one of the objectives of many specialized organizations in Europe e.g. Bundeszentrale f?r politische Bildung located in Germany. This issue is of a paramount importance to the extent that political participation of the minorities in America attracted a number of political sciences researchers and it was described by the Committee on Comparative Politics – Social Science Research Council (USA) as “The Crises of Participation”. In the current Irish situation emerges the need for setting up a governmental office specialized in political participation of the minorities.
Motivating political participation is a matter that can neither be accomplished by mere good intentions nor by positive instructions e.g. equal opportunities, as some might claim. It should be founded on the significance of the awareness of the importance of political participation and its profound impact on the positive integration among the various communities forming the texture of Irish society. Motivating political participation leads to averting societal crisis deemed to be a platform to isolation and gehtoing. Hence, one should raise the following question. Is the political system flexible enough to be amended to suit the contemporary societal changes in terms of accommodating the new communities and including members thereof.
In the same context the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia stated that members of the E.U. are in need of developing their politics aiming at accomplishing equality for Muslim minorities. It also encourages the initiative of positive integration aiming to create an environment that enables the Muslim communities all over Europe to participate in all ranges of the societal activities.
In spite of the above mentioned one cannot claim that Muslims are released from blame. As leaders and organizations they have a fundamental role to encourage the Muslim political participation. They should answer legal issues pertaining thereto. In cooperation with political leaders they are supposed to organize workshops and seminars to raise awareness about the Irish politics. They should look into arguments and counter arguments regarding the permissibility and impermissibility of Muslim political participation.
About Author: Ali Selim