President warns over anti-Muslim prejudice
President Michael D Higgins believes prejudice against the Muslim community is fuelled by a lack of understanding of the Middle East.
Mr Higgins called on Irish people to engage with Islamic culture at the opening of an exhibition featuring one of the most valuable Korans in the world at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.
The Koran was created by calligrapher Ruzbihan Muhammad al-Tab'I al-Shirazi in Iran in the mid 16th century.
It is believed only five Korans signed by Ruzbihan have survived, and historians consider this to be one of his masterpieces. Mr Higgins said the increasing number of visitors to the library will gain a "deeper understanding" of different cultures across the world.
"For Irish and European audiences, the opportunity to encounter Islamic and Persian culture directly is all the more important, in a context where Islamophobia and other insidious forms of prejudice against Muslims are rampant throughout Europe," said Mr Higgins.
"Such prejudice is often fuelled by an ignorance of the politics and history of the Middle East, a blindness to the many ways in which our Muslim citizens and residents enrich European life, and a misrepresentation of the tenets of the Islamic faith itself."
Mr Higgins said the advocates of a "distorted and hateful" version of Islam are "persecuting those of other persuasions" with the view to destroy the cultural trace of previous generations.
He said: "That the epicentre of such devastation, which reaches out to Africa, Asia, and even to the heart of our European cities, should affect one of the cradles of civilisation, the holy lands of Iraq and Syria, is particularly tragic."