CAIRO – A hate e-mail sent to Muslim mosques, homes and organizations in Dublin has been widely condemned by Irish officials as unwelcomed “racism” and “religious bigotry”.
“I utterly condemn racism and religious bigotry in all of their forms and am appalled by the nature of these communications,” Justice Minister Alan Shatter was quoted as saying by the Irish Independent.
Shatter, who is on a five day trip to Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, warned that religious intolerance was not welcomed in the Irish society.
“Religious intolerance has no place in our society,” he said.
“Incitement to hatred and incitement to violence are offences under our laws.”
The minister’s angry comments followed reports about a hate mail that was sent to mosques and Muslim homes and organizations in the last week.
Written in block capitals, the hate mail letter threatened to attack any Muslim man, woman or child at any mosque in Ireland.
It suggested those behind the hate mail were opposed to the building of a new large mosque in north Dublin.
“Muslims have no right to be in Ireland. The Irish people are not happy with your presence in our country which belongs to the true Irish people,” it said.
“This land belongs to the Christian faith and we will not allow you to turn it into a Muslim country.
“Just remember there are more of us and we have more guns than you will ever see. A mosque and Muslims are the devil and a legitimate target and we will attack.”
The Immigrant Council of Ireland called on anyone who receives a threat to report it to the gardai, the police in Ireland referred to as Garda Síochána or "the Guardian of the Peace", and to inform the organization.
Muslims make up 1.1 percent of the 4.5 million people in Ireland, but their ranks are swelling due to immigration, domestic births, and in some cases conversion.
Two decades ago, they numbered about 4,000.
A 2011 census recorded 49,204 Muslims, including nearly 12,000 school-aged children. The numbers represent a 51 percent increase since 2006.
Amid increasing condemnations, Irish Muslim leaders said the community was not worried about these immature incitements.
"The letter was written by immature people. It shows ignorance of the reality," Dr Ali Saleem, a key figure in the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, Dublin, said.
"The person who wrote that failed to understand that most of the Muslims in Ireland, 65,000 of them, are Irish. They are living at home.
“There are 49 mosques in Ireland, nine in Dublin, that again is a highlight that people living in Ireland, regardless of their beliefs and race, they enjoy the freedoms of beliefs and practise. That's very much something that's in harmony with Irish heritage,” he added.
Denise Charlton, chief executive, said the hate mail and the threats contained in them were sinister and alarming.
"The language used is that more often associated with right wing extremists which have re-emerged in other parts of Europe," she said.
"The Immigrant Council is committed to working with the Gardai to combat racism and is requesting that the force use all available resources to establish which group or individual is behind the letters and the internet postings and to ensure that they face the full rigour of the law."
Charlton noted that the effectiveness of Ireland's incitement to hatred legislation would be tested in the current incident.
"The tone and language of the letter does not allow for ambiguity, it is by any definition an act of hatred and should be prosecuted as such," she added.
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