A Muslim asylum seeker lost out on an award for volunteer work after indicating that he would not shake hands with the woman who was to present him with the prize.
Alinoor Ahmed Sheikh, a Somali based in an asylum hostel in Tralee, was to have been honoured for his work raising funds for Amnesty International at a ceremony last Thursday organised by the Africa Centre in Dublin. The event was designed to highlight the positive work done by refugees and asylum seekers in Irish communities.
Five minutes before Benedicta Attoh, a member of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism, was due to present the award she was told not to call out Sheikh’s name. “The judges had decided that someone else should get the award,” said Attoh, chairwoman of the Africa Centre’s board.
Attoh did not find out the reason why until she read in Metro Eireann on Friday that his name had been removed because of his refusal to shake hands with women. Sheikh told the newspaper that he had been assured his request not to shake a female presenter’s hand would be accommodated because it was based on his religious beliefs.
His certificate was presented to Therese Elumelu, who was not present, with Sheikh’s name crossed out.
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