Alliance of Former Muslims (Ireland) affirms the Enlightenment values of reason and humanism. We thus reject the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers under Irish law, who are forced to subsist on a weekly pittance while their cases are considered – often for years at a time. The situation is particularly bad for ex-Muslims, whose negative view of Islam leads multicultural appeasers to undermine their asylum claims, despite them facing persecution and death at home. In this article, to protect the anonymity of our members, the use of pseudonyms has been employed.
It is a sad fact that Ireland, when it comes to the rights of asylum seekers, is currently an outlier among EU member states. Under the existing law, asylum seekers in Ireland are not allowed to work until they receive a decision on their status. According to a governmental report published in July 2015, fifty-five percent of asylum applicants have been waiting for over five years to have their claims decided on, and have been barred from working during that time.
In June 2013, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union recast the Reception Conditions Directive to reduce the maximum time member states can delay the grant of work authorisation to asylum seekers from one year to nine months, once their applications have been filed. As of June 2017, Ireland is one of only three EU member states that do not apply the recast Directive; the other two are Denmark and the United Kingdom. To quote Bill Frelick, refugee program director at Human Rights Watch:
Ireland’s refusal to allow them to work puts asylum seekers at a serious disadvantage while waiting – sometimes for years – for decisions on their refugee claims. Ireland should recognise work not only as a source of dignity, but as providing a livelihood that is integral to sustaining asylum seekers in the pursuit of their right to seek asylum.
Indeed, not only does the current law discourage people from seeking asylum, it actively punishes those who do – ex-Muslims in particular, who appear to be regarded by the Irish State as a dangerous nuisance. Before we come to that, however, we are obliged to mention the case of a Burmese man who lived in Direct Provision for over eight years before receiving refugee status. To quote from an article in the Irish Times:
The man had argued, while living in Direct Provision on a 19 euro weekly allowance, that he suffered depression and “almost complete loss of autonomy”, and that being allowed to work was vital to his development, personal dignity and “sense of self-worth”.
Shortly after coming here in late 2008, he was refused refugee status but appealed [this decision]. After the High Court found errors in how his applications were decided, there were rehearings before the Refugee Appeals Tribunal last September, which granted him refugee status.
Such is the situation facing those fleeing desperate conditions, including the risk of being killed for ‘blasphemy’. Indeed, the plight of ex-Muslims in Direct Provision is perhaps the most severe of all. Put simply, the Irish State is in thrall to multiculturalism: thus, since ex-Muslims belie the notion of a moderate Islam, their asylum claims are put off for as long as possible. While Wahhabi-Salafi preachers who advocate bombing Shannon Airport are allowed to claim benefits, ex-Muslims fleeing state-sponsored lynch mobs are forced to live on 19 euro a week.
Given the seriousness of this subject, we will inevitably return to it at a later date. For now, however, we will content ourselves with the testimonies of Nabil and Walid, both of whom live in Direct Provision in Munster and openly identify as ex-Muslims. Their experiences highlight the gross deficiencies in Ireland’s asylum system, fuelled as it is by moral and intellectual cowardice. To quote Nabil first, who has received violent threats from those who are not especially considered:
I was walking along the river on May 25th. As I finished my walk, I bumped into a man I knew from the hostel. He was having tea with another Pakistani guy; I said hello to them both.
Just after this, a man with a Labrador Retriever passed us by. As he was passing, I commented that this breed of dog is considered very intelligent. When I said this, the man from the hostel responded that Allah created dogs from man’s bellybutton. He then quoted a hadith saying that black dogs should be killed. I replied that the dog is a faithful animal, that it’s the social form of the wolf and can still interbreed with them. He then said that everything has a creator, even if it’s just a cup of tea. I made the point that if everything needs a creator, then so does a creator, so this argument is useless.
At this point, his complexion changed. He started verbally abusing me, getting angrier and angrier. He threatened to hit me with the cup and continued cursing me, saying “I’ll fuck your sister, you dog.” I apologised, and said that I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. But he didn’t stop, so I started walking back to the hostel.
I’ve considered recording his voice in case he does this again. My friends in the hostel say that I should contact the police. However, I fear that if I take it to the police, they’ll cast doubt on it and ask me to move to another hostel. I don’t want that, as I am doing a course here and a volunteer job as well. I can’t do anything to jeopardise that.
Next up is Walid, whose interviews over the past three years with State authorities expose their wilful ignorance when it comes to atheism: indeed, having spent three years in Ireland already, Walid still has to prove that his apostasy is sincere. In his testimony of life in Direct Provision, Walid recounts the behaviour of a Pakistani man claiming to be fleeing persecution by the Taliban, but who in reality, actually supports them:
If you are a member of the Pathan [an ethnic group native to Afghanistan and North-Western Pakistan], you can obtain Afghani nationality even if you were born and raised in Pakistan. A Pakistani man who lived in my hostel did exactly this, for the sake of boosting his asylum case: he claimed to be fleeing from the Taliban in Afghanistan, even though he has never set foot in the country. He got the documents needed to prove that he was an Afghani national, and made his asylum claim on this false basis.
This man, it turns out, is actually a major supporter of the Taliban. One evening, the two of us were watching the news in the hostel lobby. When the report came on about the Peshawar school massacre*, he celebrated and did the Bhangara [special dance] we do in Pakistan. When I asked him about this, he said “I love these people, they are the real Muslims.” This man is now a Qur’an teacher, and is making his living in this way. It’s the perfect life for these people, because they don’t have to give something back to the community.
The imam of the mosque in my area is also an asylum seeker, and is here by means of a sham marriage. He married a poor girl from a country in Eastern Europe. These are the ones who are given priority, while people like me have to prove that it is not safe for atheists in Pakistan.
*On December 16th 2014, seven gunmen affiliated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) attacked the Army Public School in Peshawar. The militants, all of whom were foreign nationals, included one Chechen, three Arabs and two Afghans. They entered the school and immediately opened fire, killing 141 people, including 132 children. This was the deadliest terrorist attack ever to occur in Pakistan.
Asylum seekers living in Millstreet Accommodation Centre, Drishane Castle, County Cork. (Source: The Irish Times)