An Irish judge has sparked outrage among immigrant rights groups and the Irish Muslim community.

While hearing the case of a Somali man accused of breaking into his ex-wife’s home, Judge Anthony Halpin, who presides over Tallaght Court in Co. Dublin, said, “Muslims feel they can actually beat their wives.”

Immigrant groups are urging Judge Halpin to either withdraw or offer clarity regarding his remarks. The Immigrant Council of Ireland called his words “disappointing, wrong and offensive.

“People in positions of authority in the community have a particular duty not to feed racism or xenophobia, this applies to politicians, local media commentators and members of the judiciary. The remarks should either be withdrawn or clarified as a matter of urgency,” a spokesman said.                                                                  

Junior government minister Joe Costello also spoke out against Halpin’s conduct saying, “On the surface it sounds insulting and gratuitous and he should immediately clarify the remarks."                                                           

The hearing, which took place on Thursday, concerned the case of Somali immigrant Khadar Younis, 46, who had pleaded not guilty to breaking into the home of his ex-wife, Kara Ibrahim, breaking an order of protection against her, and threatening her with a knife on the night of May 10, 2013. The couple was divorced by a Muslim cleric under the Koran.                                                                                                                                            

At the hearing, Ibrahim moved to drop the case against Younis. Judge Halpin ruled to push proceedings back by six months, at which point the case will either be resumed or dropped. Younis is remanded on bail until then.                

According to the Irish Independent, earlier in the week Judge Halpin had announced his reassignment to the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin, saying that he “may have stepped on some toes.