A UCC lecturer has slammed the remarks of a local election candidate in favour of banning the burka.
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam at University College Cork, DR Amanullah De Sondy was reacting to comments made about the Muslim headdress by local election candidate and former Lord Mayor Joe O'Callaghan in yesterday's Echo.
The Independent local election candidate said he still stands by a motion to ban burkas and niqabs seven years after he proposed it in City Hall.
His controversial remarks come in the wake of Sri Lanka's ban on face coverings in public after a spate of Easter Sunday suicide attacks that killed at least 250 people and injured hundreds more.
Dr De Sondy said he believes that politicians with such views are not interested in building bridges.
"It's a very dangerous line to take that infringes on a liberal state," Dr De Sondy said.
"There is always similar rhetoric from these candidates because they are trying to get voters who are inclined in a certain way. Sadly, Muslims are only the monsters they have been made into. These sort of debates have been had in other parts of Europe. They are the arguments put forward by right-wing individuals who are not interested in building bridges. They only want to burn them."
The lecturer said he feels that Islamophobia needs to be acknowledged.
"Even after the attacks in New Zealand the word Islamophobia wasn't mentioned.
"There are close to 100,000 Muslims in this country. They may not be a voting target, but they have become scapegoats for individuals like this to try to get recognition. The government needs to make it clear that this is a lone voice and let people know that it stands against any form of Islamophobia and white supremacy. "
He added that action needs to be taken to challenge these attitudes. "Just because we have a gay, half Indian Taoiseach doesn't necessarily mean we don't have a problem.
We cannot sit on our laurels and think that because Ireland is a neutral country a vacuum can't be filled. We don't want to become a state where we are empowering these lunatics. This is all linked to the fact that Ireland is changing and certain people are afraid. I wouldn't say they are racist or Islamophobic, only misinformed. "
He is keen to challenge damaging stereotypes.
"We don't talk about Catholicism and only associate it with priests. We need rational politics.
Some Muslim men are heterosexual. Others are gay. Some Muslim women leave their hair loose while others choose to hide it. These are the kind of discussions we need to be having."
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