Ireland hails Muslim contributions
CAIRO — Ireland’s President Mary McAleese has praised Muslim students’ contributions to Irish society and economy, saying they are good ambassadors for the Islamic faith, The Irish Times reported Saturday, February 27.
“It is important to acknowledge here the very positive contribution that Islamic students make to Irish society and to our economy,” McAleese said late Friday at a ceremony marking the end of the Islamic Awareness Week at the Royal College of Surgeons.
She said studies and scientific researches by Muslim students have largely enriched Ireland.
“They are helping to advance the frontiers of science, medicine and research,” she said.
“It is their encouraging experience of Ireland that helps our higher education institutions compete for students and recognition in this globalized world.”
Irish universities and educational institutions are favorite destinations for Muslims students, particularly from Gulf and Asian countries.
Every year, Muslim students associations organize an Islam Awareness Week at universities to raise awareness about Islam and Muslims.
“(This event) plays an important part in educating our society about itself and its members,” McAleese said.
“The spirit of this week is the path to understanding and I hope that as the week comes to a close more and more people will have joined the journey of mutual understanding which is so essential for the development of a tolerant, peaceful, safe and nurturing society.”
Ireland is home to some 50,000 Muslims, making up about 1 percent of the total population.
“Ireland’s Muslim population, though still relatively small, has been augmented by inward migration and by a large international student population,” said McAleese.
The Irish President also extolled the Muslim students’ role in promoting the values of coexistence and respect of the other.
“The Islamic and Muslim Student Societies are very active in colleges across the country, promoting awareness and fostering relationships across different cultures,” said McAleese.
“That investment, which I hope is matched by a curiosity and a welcome from those who know little about Islam, is essential if we are to fully live our claim to be a place of many traditions.”
The Irish leader also praised the Muslim students’ role in forging ahead Ireland’s relations with all Muslim countries.
“Historically Ireland’s links with the world of Islam have been relatively modest,” she said.
“They have largely been forged by Muslim students from many countries who paid us the compliment of undertaking their academic and professional studies here.”
McAleese thanked the Muslim students for being good ambassadors for their faith in Ireland and for the European country over the world.
“They have proved to be wonderful ambassadors not just for their countries, faith and culture but for Ireland for wherever they have gone in the world they have spoken well of us, opened doors to us and become voluntary advocates for Ireland.”
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