Many know that I have chosen to live in Dublin’s Liberties, one of the most deprived parts of the inner city. Towering over my house are the flats of Teresa’s Gardens, and on the other side of Cork Street there is Fatima Mansions; Dublin Corporation housing which are home to communities of Dubliners who have been hit hard by unemployment, crime, drugs, and in the 1980s and 90s an AIDS epidemic. Less than a five minute walk from my front door there are two Christian churches – one Catholic and the other Protestant. The clergy of neither of these churches are known to visit the people where they live no matter the hardship that they face. In the time that I have lived in this house two of my neighbours have been made homeless, another two have been shot dead, a number of the young women and girls periodically sell their bodies to feed their children or a drug habit or both, and a number of people have come to my door looking for food.

If I were to trust the television or the newspapers I would believe that the greatest threat to me and this country is the growing number of Muslims, and not the government’s austerity measures. Yet often my door is knocked or I am stopped close to my home by young Muslim men looking for food donations that they might feed the hungry. Looking over my social media news feeds I see a number of my friends voicing this irrational fear of Islam; looking to hold every Muslim responsible for the terrible things that have happened recently in Paris and around the world. We may have reason to be afraid of terrorism, but my own experience leads me to believe that my Muslim neighbours too are afraid of this terror – doubly so because they have the suspicion of non-Muslims to face as well.

I have decided to write this to share with you my feelings about the Muslims I have met here. They are deeply good people. Over the next week I have decided that I will make contact with them and visit their Mosque. I am a devout Christian, but rather than this closing me to this encounter I feel that it is actually the most Christian thing that I can do.

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