Members of Cork's Muslim community have spoken out about verbal and physical attacks, about having their cars smashed, beer poured over their heads, and about being constantly targeted by people accusing them of bombings, beheadings, and other terrorist attacks, it has been revealed.
In one of the most shocking cases, a heavily pregnant woman was walking down Douglas Steet recently when a man began to shout at her, telling her to take her headscarf off. The man became increasingly aggressive and even poured beer over the woman's head at one point.
Terrified, and in tears, the woman ran into a local convenience store to escape the attacker.
Anti-racism campaigner Hamou M. Ali, who is originally from Albania but has been living in Cork for 15 years now, said words can never truly describe the racism he has seen on the streets here.
“There is no time, there is no paper or ink, to write down all of what I have seen,” he said.
“Islamophobia is rising. And unfortunately, right wing politics is also rising. Muslims are walking around and are being pointed out as troublemakers. I know what it feels like to be discriminated against.” Ali said he wants anyone with any questions about Islam to talk to him, and so he helps run an Islam information stand on the Grand Parade at weekends. Unfortunately, this information stand has also become a target.
“The same man comes to us at our stall all the time and he will use all the insults that exist. He talks about us chopping people's heads off and he asks us to show him where our bombs are,” said Ali.
Other Muslims living in Cork say they are regularly told to “go back home”. Ali himself describes how he was getting a bus in the city one day, and a passenger told him: “Dogs are not welcome here”.
see today's Evening Echo print edition for more.