Proud of their beliefs, embarrassed by the extremists. My time with the Muslim community here in Ireland

Henry McKean

Muslims are one of the most misunderstood groups and religions in Ireland and the world.

Ever since 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings, there has been fear and ignorance towards this mainly peaceful, religious group.

Little is known about their culture here so people are quick to judge. With the uprisings in Libya, Egypt and other parts of North Africa and the Middle East, there has been renewed interest in the Muslim culture. My TV3 documentary goes some way to explaining Islam and Irish Muslims. I am no expert, but an outsider looking in.

Irish Muslim women I met all feel they are treated well and are happy to be Muslim. One said she felt like the queen of the house.

I met Muslim convert Karen, a true blue Dub. She wears the full Niqab.

"I became very strong in my religion and I just wanted to please my God, that's it. You have to be doing this for yourself. I wouldn't be doing this for my husband," she said.


I asked Karen about the reaction from the Irish public about her all-in-one black outfit.

"It's very hard, especially older people when they comment. They haven't got used to the Muslims, they will make faces and will always comment behind your back."

Ireland has a Muslim population of around 50,000 and Islam is the second largest religion in the world with more than one billion followers compared to Christianity with more than two billion.

The population here is made up of people from Libya, Iraq, Algeria, Somalia and Nigeria, among others. I spent time travelling around Ireland speaking to Muslims and Irish people who have converted to Islam.

Merium Djazouli plays Gaelic football for an Irishtown club, she said.

"I was looking for a Gaelic football team because I really wanted to get to know the Irish culture. In our team I'm the only Muslim, I've been really welcomed by the whole club."

I visit the Muslim national school in Clonskeagh Dublin where pupils pray five times a day. During Ramadan a lot of the children fast and sometimes do not have food or water all day.

Before you enter the Mosque you have to take off your shoes. I experience the Wudhu, the ritual of washing your self before prayer.

Women sit separately from the men to prevent distraction so everyone can concentrate on prayer.

During the boom years, thousands of Muslims came here and since the recession many have stayed.

Irish Catholics who convert to Islam have mainly enjoyed a positive experience, expressing their faith and integrating with the local community. Some 99.9pc want to live in peace and just a tiny fraction openly share hardline views. One of them is Khalid Kelly.

I was worried about meeting Khalid Kelly, formally Terrence Kelly, from the Liberties in Dublin. He told me he would have no problem fighting against the coalition forces in Afghanistan if he got the chance.

We could not use this comment in the documentary because we have a duty not to incite hatred and to be fair to the other peace-loving Muslims who want nothing to do with Khalid Kelly and his beliefs.


Irish Muslims want to distance themselves from self-confessed 'Terry the Taliban'. They feel he does not represent their understanding of Islam.

I walked and drove around with him in the Coombe area to find out if he really believes these extreme views. His opinions are not shared by the majority of Muslims in Ireland and they feel embarrassed by him.

Mr Kelly worked as a nurse in Saudi Arabia and sold alcohol on the black market in bulk, which is illegal over there. He got caught and was jailed and converted to Islam in prison.

Mr Kelly called his son Osama Bin Laden. "There is a famous man called Sheikh Osama Bin Laden and really I named him after him because I think it's a name to be proud of.

"When 9/11 happened in 2001, I saw the first plane go in and the first thing I said was, 'What else did they expect?'"

He told me the Special Branch visited him and warned him to stop spreading his message to the people of Ireland.

The Truth About Irish Muslims airs tonight on TV3 at 10pm Henry Mckean presents Under The Covers on Saturdays at 8am and is the reporter on Moncrieff, weekdays 1.30-4.30 on Newstalk