Unfortunately it’s often necessary to establish some credentials before contributing to this debate. Ok, here goes: I’m a 59 year-old Irish socialist who is thoroughly enjoying the arrival of large numbers of immigrants here. They contribute to an established process of opening up what was a relatively closed society.
If all cultures, religions, races etc. had progressive or at least benign values and practices, it would be grand. They don’t and when they don’t, good people (Yes, “good”!) are obliged to challenge and to argue.
I could waffle on here about relativism and different notions of equality but let’s be clear: what’s really exercising me about Islam in Ireland is that I don’t want to have to go over old ground. A degree of gender equality is still quite new here and, for example, I don’t want a return to little Irish citizens covering their heads because of bizarre views about modesty or to see again places of worship where women are separated from men. Tolerance is much improved here and, for example, I don’t want again to have to get stroppy in defence of gay friends. Blasphemy is no longer a censoring power here and God has told me that She has a sense of humour and wants me to make fun of priests and prophets.
In short, the public face of Islam looks very like 1950s Irish Catholicism. Most Catholics no longer hold such views and I’m sure most Muslims no longer hold such views either. However, there are people who would like a return to what was essentially an oppressive society. They can expect to be opposed by disrespectful jokes and arguments.