Diversity brings Ireland peace - not ‘creeping Islamification’
2017-07-18 11:05:32 -
By Natalie Kayton

What gives rise to the othering that makes one person lesser another’s worth? It’s a question that was heavy on my mind on my first day in Ireland as I walked with my programme director, the person in charge of my studies abroad. 

It was a bright and sunny day and I was excited to see the sights and meet new people. As I photographed my surroundings, my director frantically asked me to take a picture of a car’s licence plate. I missed the picture but asked why, because I couldn’t fathom how someone sitting at a red light could prompt such a reaction.

My supervisor responded by saying he was “doing his duty as a civilian” and was going to report the driver for playing Arabic music in his car.

If any argument could be made over the volume of that music, the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 says a complaint can only be made if it’s affecting your quality of life. The music was clearly not effecting mine or any other pedestrian’s ears. The car’s windows were down, and one could hear it clearly, but it was not at a level that would ever be questioned.

But that wasn’t how my supervisor felt, as he attempted to memorise the number plate as the car pulled away. It became apparent to me that it was the type of music that man was playing, not the volume, that was the real problem. 

There is no law on what type of music one can listen to in Ireland, as Citizens Information clearly states. But that did not deter my supervisor, who startled be in a follow-up conversation by declaring: “I don’t want Dublin to be a city with creeping Islamification.” 

That term, ‘creeping Islamification’ – it’s so odd that not even he could confirm that was the correct wording. Whatever it is, though, it’s just a derogatory term for diversity. In no world did I think I would experience someone blatantly othering a person from the Middle East in a country that is by all accounts diverse, especially on my first day.

As a citizen of the United States, I am aware of the social problems minorities face in my own home country. However, upon moving to Ireland, I’ve realised that this is a common problem: no country can deny the factor of people wanting to be superior to those different from them. It must be difficult to accept that in today’s multicultural Ireland, white Catholic males are not the only people making a positive contribution to society.

My supervisor insisted in defending his agenda, saying that he “wouldn’t want people to be blasting Irish music either”. But I hardly see him as a man who strays away from pubs on a rowdy night. While he says Dublin “is a very diverse place” and that the city welcomes everyone, I struggle to see how reporting an individual for playing his music of choice is welcoming.

This situation makes me wonder how countries differ in their relation to problems regarding culture, race, religion or sexual orientation. When asked for comment, the Garda’s reply was general and passive, complacent even. Aside from that, I had to question why someone who is so open in his discrimination could ever be a mentor for an international student programme?

From that single incident, I second-guessed my choice of programme, this country’s relation to the Middle Eastern, and what exactly is the problem with Arabic music? It’s not ‘creeping Islamification’, that’s for sure – it’s diversity, and we should be celebrating it, not tearing it down.

Natalie Kayton is an intern at Metro Éireann and a student at Wagner College in New York City, USA.
TAGS : Natalie Kayton Creeping islamification Wagner college Diveristy Ireland
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