Limerick City, Ireland (IINA) - The first Miss Limerick from a Muslim background in Ireland has pledged to challenge Islamophobia during her reign, after being subjected to attacks online.
Racha Mennad, aged 20, said she had been the victim of racist and religious abuse online, even though she was born and grew up in Ireland, Limerick Leader News reported.
Born in Ireland, Mennad said she is also proud to be Algerian and to have an Algerian passport. The Tullamore native, who has been studying HR and French at the University of Limerick for two years, said she made a complaint to the gardai over one highly offensive comment.
Mennad notified the gardai that one person wrote on her Facebook 'Avoid Racha Mennad she has bombs on her.'
She said the comment was made at a time when she was trying to launch her career and was also worried this would negatively impact upon her professional reputation.
The man in question denied to gardai that he wrote the offending comment, and she declined to pursue the matter further, she said. My family is Muslim, so I know what it is to be a Muslim each day.
I still feel like I have a responsibility to educate people to a certain extent. In general, Ireland is a very open country, but some people are misinformed or slightly ignorant. Many people don't understand what's going on in Syria or the circumstances these people are fleeing from, said Mennad, whose parents fled the war in Algeria in 1996.
However, she said she is increasingly frustrated by comments on social media equating Muslims to terrorists.
The comment on Facebook is probably the most extreme example, but Muslims have to regularly deal with little passing remarks that people don't think are offensive, but are actually highly offensive. It does hurt when people make these comments, and there should be greater repercussions when they write these things online, she said.
She said that every time there is a terrorist attack all Muslims feel a burdening responsibility to defend the religion and remind some people that this isn't what Islam teaches or supports. It shouldn't be like that, but unfortunately, it will be until people realize that terrorism knows no religion.
Speaking about attacks on a number of mosques in Limerick, in which one was broken into, vandalized and the carpet urinated upon, she said: the people who did this are the terrorists.
Isis or Isil and any other terrorist organization do not represent the Muslim Community, nor are they welcomed by it. These people are extremists that manipulate the words of, in this case, the Qur'an in order to justify their cruel actions.
It is so unfortunate that we are the target of so much ignorance and hatred because of a small group of brainwashed psychopaths. Isis have killed hundreds and thousands of innocent Muslims in Syria and all over the world and continue to do so each day, so how can anyone say that these people are Muslims? Mennad noted.
Source: International Islamic News Agency