Somaya Mahmoud – 29-05-2018
So, in the aftermath of what has been one of the largest and most controversial referendums in Irish history, I was hopeful and perhaps naïve in expecting that the prolife people who have confronted me time and time again regarding my heritage, and the subsequent racial slurs which were associated with it, would subside. For context, I’m a Muslim woman from Egypt. Living here for almost 23 of my 26 years of life, I’m as Irish as they come. I have never once considered leaving the country or even my county. Much less so to “go home”.
This referendum was about the sanctity of human life, that of the mother or the unborn foetus, depending on your stance. The facts as they stand are, if I were to “go home” and endured a high-risk pregnancy, abortion would be a service available to me because as Muslims, human lives are valued above all else, including “potential human lives”.
Anyone who has claimed otherwise, which has happened to me repeatedly during my campaign, has done nothing more than tar me with the same brush as the people I most despise. I have worked as a language interpreter, I have seen Arab refugees flee from these people, and to be compared to them is one of the most upsetting things in my world.
I have been told by a high-profile member of the Irish Solidarity Army that it doesn’t matter how long I’ve lived here, I’d never truly be Irish or understand Irish culture. I’ve been told by strangers that I’ve no right in this country, the Constitution is not something I have any say in. I’ve been told by people that if abortion is legal in high-risk cases, I should visit Egypt if I ever needed one and “make a holiday of it”.
Personally, I’ve experienced racial slurs and racial abuse well beyond results day. This has left me very shaken. I have seen how some people genuinely feel about me, and it has left me questioning my place in Ireland. I love my country, and leaving it has never crossed my mind before, but the hatred I have felt during my prochoice campaign has left me feeling alienated from the people I genuinely love.
Ireland has and always will be my world, I have loved it beyond measure, and have always done what I felt were in the best interests of the country. It was by no means an “Islamic agenda to abort white babies to increase the foreign population”. My only agenda was to ensure women remained safe in the most trying experiences of their lives.
I have one simple question to ask these people: Would you be able to look a child entering 1st class in the eye, and tell them that in 20 years you will consider them “non-Irish” with no say in the legislation that affects them daily?