Friday, 2 September 2011
I was reading through the most recently-released batch of US embassy cables released by Wikileaks. Some of these concerned the growth of Islam in Ireland. There is a good summary of it here.
The first trickle of Muslims arrived in Ireland in the
early 1950s to pursue educational opportunities. Many came to
study medicine, particularly at the Royal College of Surgeons
in Dublin. The community saw its greatest growth rates during
the economic boom in Ireland in the 1990s. Many of the
migrants that came to Ireland at that time were professionals
or university students and there was no particular
predominance in terms of nationality or region. Today, the
community includes Iraqi and Afghan refugees and a smaller
numbers of Irish converts. The 2006 census results listed the
number of Muslims in Ireland at 32,539. Current estimates
indicate that there are approximately 40,000 Muslims
currently living in Ireland.


A 2006 cable, classified Secret, discussed attempts by the US embassy to engage with Muslims in Ireland.
In 2004, we launched a new outreach program to Muslims in Ireland, a group that has grown rapidly in recent years from a population of less than 4,000 according to a 1991 census to a population the GOI estimates to be more than 30,000. To build dialogue with this community, the Ambassador, DCM, POL/ECON Chief, and emboffs have met with Sunni and Shi'a leaders, hosted events, and nominated Muslims for the International Visitors program.


Alarmingly, however, it seems this outreach program has gone beyond mere talking. The US embassy in Ireland has been ghost-writing soothing-sounding op-eds for Muslim leaders and placing them in prominent newspapers.
One of the most pro-democracy and pro-USG policy Islamic voices in Ireland is that of the Shi'a Mosque leader, Irish/Iraqi/Saudi Arabian national Dr. Ali Al Saleh and his approximately 250-member predominantly Iraqi congregation in the Dublin neighborhood known as "Milltown". Al Saleh and the Irish Shi'as attempt to provide the Irish public with a balanced view of USG efforts in Iraq, but unfortunately, lack the media savvy to effectively communicate the balanced picture of activities in Iraq and are overshadowed in the Islamic community by the majority Sunnis, who have historical and political connections to the GOI. With assistance from
Post, however, Dr. Al Saleh's message is gradually being heard by an Irish audience, such as in a positive Op-Ed ghost-written for him in the Irish Times, the Irish newspaper of record, on the third anniversary of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq.

I assume that "assistance from Post" here refers to the US embassy in Ireland that originated this cable. You might say it is a good thing if the voices of Muslims who feel no deep hostility to the West are given special prominence. Of course it would be a good thing if such sentiments became widespread among Muslims. The major effect of this kind of propaganda, however, is upon non-Muslims, in this case Irish people who read the ghost-written op-ed in the Irish Times and would undoubtedly be influenced by it to hold a more positive view of Islam and an inappropriate and unrealistic view about its ultimate compatibility with western norms. This is a sinister corruption of public discourse by a foreign government.

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