‘This is not about politics’: Intercom offers safe harbour for Muslims in Dublin

31 Jan 2017

Intercom’s Dublin office. Image: Intercom

The customer messaging platform Intercom has weighed in on the chaos caused by US president Donald Trump’s sudden immigration ban by offering any affected Muslims safe harbour at its Dublin office.

While not a direct ban on Muslims entering the US, President Donald Trump’s executive order has banned the immigration of people from seven Muslim-majority countries, which has resulted in international outcry and mutiny from within the US government itself.

Silicon Valley in particular has been in almost unanimous disagreement with the decision, with staff within Google admitting the company was “freaking out” over the potential harm to hundreds of its employees.

‘This is a very fundamental, human issue’

Another Silicon Valley company with Irish roots is taking it a step further, by offering safe harbour to any affected tech employees – or any Muslim people in general – at its Dublin office.

Founded by Irishmen Eoghan McCabe, Des Traynor, Ciaran Lee and David Barrett in 2011, Intercom has its headquarters in San Francisco and other offices in Chicago and Dublin, where it recently expanded its office space.

In a post to Intercom’s blog, McCabe described how “saddened” both he and his co-founders have felt since hearing news of the ban on people entering the US from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“Please know that this is not about politics for us. We have love for everyone in this broad conversation, no matter how they voted in the recent election,” McCabe said.

“This is a very fundamental, human issue, something far bigger. We abhor this and any policy of hate and discrimination, and that’s why we’re getting involved.”

Cover legal fees for those seeking refuge in Dublin

McCabe reiterated that this offer of refuge is not in any way an attempt at a recruitment drive for Intercom’s Dublin office, but emphasised that the city was a good place to be for continuing a tech career.

“Like San Francisco, it’s home to hundreds of technology companies,” he said. “From tiny start-ups we’ve not heard of yet, to later-stage ones like Stripe and Slack, to large-sized tech companies like Airbnb and Dropbox, and even bigger ones like Facebook and Google. It’s multicultural, and in our opinion, quite welcoming and open.”

Intercom has also said that as well as offering advice to anyone deciding to seek refuge here in Dublin, it will also cover legal fees up to €5,000 for as many as 50 people seriously considering moving to the city.

Threatens US exit

While McCabe said that this decision is not a matter of politics, he also added a message directed at the current US administration saying that it can’t “pick and choose” who it wants to let in.

“When you give us green cards and visas, you make an implicit, if not explicit, deal with us: We’ll bet our careers and lives on you, and create a ton of jobs and significant tax revenues, and you’ll let us stick around, according to the terms of the contract.”

On Twitter, McCabe has separately suggested that in the face of such action by Trump’s administration, he will seriously consider not only moving himself out of the country, but Intercom’s American staff, too.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic