Council believes Muslims need more media coverage to increase understanding of Islam

Muslims are not well represented in the media, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Islam is the fastest growing religious minority in Ireland, with more than 50,000 Muslims living here.

Muslims are also being urged to make complaints when they are negatively portrayed in the Irish media.

Raneem Salah has enjoyed living in Ireland for six years, but admits some peers have had bad experiences.

Raneem Salah during a seminar by the Immigrant Council of Ireland on 'Muslims in the Media: Challenging Misconceptions' at the Ashling Hotel, Dublin. Pic: Collins

She said: "I've heard of people being targeted because of their faith or because they are wearing their head scarves.

"I've seen abuse hurled at them or their hijab being pulled off them on Dublin buses. It's really sad."

Raneem, a medical student at UCD says discrimination is compounded by the absence of Muslims in the media.

She said: "I think it's really important that we put ourselves out there to give people a positive image, because people just don’t know generally about Muslims and what Islam is all about.

"So they just see what image that perpetuates to them and they associate Islam with hate or terror."

As of the 2011 census there were 50,000 Muslims living in Ireland, that is twice the number of Presbyterians.

Brian Killoran of the Immigrant Council of Ireland says young Muslims aren’t seeing themselves anywhere in the media.

(L to R) Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Prof. Roja Fazaeli TCD and John Cunningham chair of ICI. Pic: Collins

He said: "And when they are represented, there is a feeling maybe that sometimes a couple of spokespeople from Muslim conmmuniites are gone to all the time.

"They themselves feel that they need to be able to link into that somehow and have more of a diversity of voices, because there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and they are massively diverse in that group."

The Press Council did not receive any complaints last year for negative coverage of Islam.

Ombudsman Peter Feeney says that is not because there was none, and he is urging Muslims to report poor coverage when they see or hear it.

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