But is this a real effort to bring Muslims to settle in Ireland? Or is it an attempt to stir up trouble at a sensitive time for Europe?
The obvious path to an answer would be to track down the owners and administrators of the Hijra to Ireland site. But it’s unclear exactly who they are. Whoever is behind it seems to have tried to hide their identity, or identities.
The domain www.hijra2ireland.com is registered by a “Benjamin Teun”, a rare being in that he seems to have no digital footprint. The phone number listed for the site administrator didn’t ring on Tuesday. And the address in Amsterdam seems to be a jumble that follows the format of Dutch addresses, but doesn’t seem to tally with any real place. Although, if you strip off the postcode, and drop some of the street name, then you get the Heineken Experience.
Likewise, www.hijra2ireland.org, which will bring you to the same page, is linked to an Istanbul address and phone number. Nobody answers that number.
There is a list of useful contacts on the site, but those of them who we reached on Tuesday said they hadn’t heard of the website.
The administrator at the South Circular Road Mosque, Dr Mudafar Al Tawash, whose number is listed on the website, said that he hadn’t heard of it and hadn’t granted permission for his contact details to be posted there.
On Tuesday morning, Dr Ali Selim, a senior member of staff at the Islamic Cultural Central of Ireland, often known as the Clonskeagh Mosque, said he hadn’t come across the website before. The ICCI’s main number is listed on the page.
“I have no idea who is writing this language to be honest,” he said. “What’s the purpose of it? I don’t think it serves the interests of Muslims anywhere.”
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland’s contact details also appear on the site, although MRCI’s Aoife Murphy said she doesn’t know anything about the website.
However, Murphy said her organisation exists to provide accurate information about a very complex immigration system. And that she wouldn’t stop anybody linking to MRCI if there’s even the slightest chance that it could help her group reach someone who needs help.
Later, she said by email: “From a quick look at the website, it seems to contain some inaccurate or misleading details about the Irish immigration system. We can’t control the content of other sites, but anyone who gets in touch with us will be given correct and up-to-date information.”
In fact, it seems, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that the page’s owners have sprinkled it with many of the bogeymen raised by anti-immigrant groups when they seek to raise fears of immigrants: that they’re looking for handouts, showered with government largesse, and uninterested in mixing with other communities.
It’s not reality.
Delays in the immigration system are spun in a positive way: “The duration of the application process can be very lengthy with many chances to appeal unwanted decisions, and prolong the stay in the country,” it reads.
It ignores the difficulties of those in the asylum system: the fact that acceptance rates are historically among the lowest in Europe, that those in direct provision have sporadically protested their poor living conditions, and that those who do get asylum or leave to remain often find it hard to get set up and back into the workforce.
Or on healthcare services, it says: “The state of Ireland grants immigrants who arrive to it access to these services that normally don’t come free to the Irish citizen,” which is untrue. If temporary visitors from the European Union fall ill, or have an accident, they may have access to free health services. Otherwise, residents are treated just like Irish citizens.
These are just two of the most obvious misconceptions on the website. I could go on.