A UCC lecturer has warned of a rising wave of Islamophobia following inflammatory comments from a Fine Gael by-election candidate.
Dr Amanullah De Sondy, a senior lecturer in contemporary Islam at UCC, was speaking to The Echo after a controversial week for Verona Murphy, Fine Gael’s candidate in the upcoming Wexford by-election.
Ms Murphy was initially criticised on Sunday when she told RTÉ that asylum-seekers need to be “deprogrammed” and she linked them to Islamic State.
It later emerged that she said, “ISIS is a big part of the migrant population”.
After receiving criticism for her comments, including from some from party colleagues, Ms Murphy said that her comments represented “a poor choice of words”.
Speaking to The Echo, Dr De Sondy said: “The time is now to name it for what it is, which is Islamophobia.
“Muslims have become political pawns in this game.
“It’s rising, not just here in Ireland, but research shows across Europe as well.”
Dr De Sondy questioned why people who make Islamophobic comments in Ireland appear to receive very little in the way of punishment.
“They’re getting a slap on the wrist or getting sent on pilgrimages, so to speak, to direct provision centres to issue an apology and that’s it.
“Is this because Muslims are not a powerful enough constituency here in Ireland to affect our political leaders in terms of paying attention to them?” he asked.
“The UK is going through a general election at the moment and people who are making anti-semitic, homophobic, Islamophobic statements are being deselected immediately.
“Why is that not happening in Ireland? Why are we saying ‘it’s fine, they’ve apologised’?
“These are very serious statements and if we’re trying to create an Ireland that is diverse, inclusive, and welcoming for people coming here, we really need to think about our actions when people are making such statements.”
Dr De Sondy admitted it is particularly concerning to see such rhetoric from politicians within the party in power.