Islamic cleric backs the deportation of refugees who break Irish laws
One of Ireland's most senior Islamic clerics has backed the deportation of refugees who become involved in illegal activity here.
Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar al-Qadri issued the call as he warned that "sinister elements" were trying to stoke dangerous divisions between the Muslim and Christian communities in Ireland.
Dr al-Qadri, a lifelong campaigner against fundamentalism, said migrants who got involved in crime deserved to be punished.
"Refugees involved in illegal activity should be deported. They do not appreciate the host society and ruin it for others," he said.
Ireland is preparing to welcome the first groups of Syrian refugees accepted as part of the EU response to the Mediterranean migration crisis.
Dr al-Qadri's comments also came as senior Islamic leaders criticised as fake a website apparently designed to fuel tensions.
The site, hijra2ireland.com, called for a "new golden age of Islam" by encouraging Muslims to migrate to Ireland. It was slated by both Dr al-Qadri and Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland.
A second social media site - which claims to represent an Islamic fundamentalist - has been set up with a Dublin address and contains deeply offensive remarks about Christians and even Pope Francis.
Dr Mudaffar al-Tawash, director of the Islamic Foundation of Ireland (IFI), contacted gardaí about the 'Hijra' website after it found its contact details were included on it. The IFI had been totally unaware of both the site and its migration claims.
Dr al-Qadri also expressed alarm over recent attacks in Germany and Sweden. He said the onus was on religious leaders to work hard to promote understanding and positive exchanges between faiths.
Dr al-Qadri is visiting Bandon Grammar School in Cork today in order to speak to students about Islam.
"I was honoured to be asked to speak in Bandon and I hope to be able to promote understanding of what Islam is really about," he said.
Last year, Dr al-Qadri launched a special website for Irish Muslims aimed at helping youngsters avoid radicalisation and allow those concerned about so-called 'Jihad messages' from radical preachers to raise the alarm.
His warning came as the Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, issued a special plea for compassion and kindness towards refugees.
He reminded Irish Christians that St Patrick was a refugee and a slave - and that Irish migrants were once treated harshly in the UK, the US and Australia.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life around the Mediterranean as desperate migrants attempt to enter the EU. They are in search of a better life," he said.
"Some will be coming to this country and they are hoping that Ireland will be a place where they are safe and can begin rebuilding their lives. It is important that the local church be at the forefront of efforts to welcome them."