Saturday 10 December 2016

Islamic leader 'shocked' by online abuse after condemning extremism

Published 28/03/2016 | 02:30

Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar al-Qadri denounced the Brussels attacks but also urged Europeans not to blame Muslims for what had happened. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar al-Qadri denounced the Brussels attacks but also urged Europeans not to blame Muslims for what had happened. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A leading Islamic cleric in Ireland who denounced extreme fundamentalism has admitted that he was "shocked" by the vilification he received for condemnation of the Brussels terror attacks.

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Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar al-Qadri denounced the Brussels attacks but also urged Europeans not to blame Muslims for what had happened. He said it was vital that governments realised that Muslims must be vital allies in "the war against terrorism".

The Dublin-based cleric revealed that in the days following his comments he was subjected to a sinister campaign of online abuse. He interpreted one comment posted about him as effectively calling for his silencing.

"Being accused of being a government agent is not worrying. But calling for my murder is shocking," he said.

Dr al-Qadri, who is the chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council, said that he had devoted his life to promoting cultural understanding and to defeating fundamentalism.

Last year, he launched a special website for Irish Muslims aimed at helping young people avoid radicalisation and allow those concerned about so-called 'Jihad messages' from radical preachers at Irish mosques to raise the alarm.

"Our unity is the defeat of extremism," he said.

Dr al-Qadri (pictured left) warned that "sinister elements" were now trying to stoke dangerous divisions between the Muslim and Christian communities in Ireland and across Europe.

The cleric will be the keynote speaker at a special Trinity College Dublin event on Thursday on preventing radicalisation, which will also see the launch of Ireland's anti-extremism declaration. He said the onus was on religious leaders to work hard to promote understanding and positive exchanges between faiths and communities.

His comments came as senior Islamic leaders slated as fake a website which hailed a "new golden age of Islam" through encouraging Muslims to migrate to Ireland.

The site, hijra2ireland.com, was slated by both Dr al-Qadri and Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI).

A second social media site - which claims to represent an Islamic fundamentalist and contains offensive remarks about Christians - was set up with a Dublin address.

Irish Independent

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