'Jihad' scholar pulls out on eve of conference

Dr Othman Alkhamees was due to address the two-day Dublin Muslim Conference 2016 at the Dublin Mosque. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Allison Bray

A Muslim conference due to take place in Dublin this weekend was cancelled at the 11th hour after its controversial keynote speaker pulled out at the last minute.

Kuwaiti Islamic scholar Dr Othman Alkhamees - who was previously banned from travelling to Holland following objections over his "radical rhetoric" by the Dutch parliament - was due to address the two-day Dublin Muslim Conference 2016 at the Dublin Mosque.

But according to mosque administrator Mudafar Altawash, the so-called "giant within conservative Salafi Islam" inexplicably cancelled his appearance on Thursday night without giving a reason.

Mr Altawash said he couldn't explain why the visit was cancelled on the eve of the conference, noting that Dr Alkhamees has been to Dublin twice previously.

The conference was organised by the Irish Kuwaiti student group Thabat and hosted by the Islamic Foundation of Ireland, which is based at the mosque on South Circular Road.

"The student union rang us and said he's not coming. We asked why and they didn't give any reason," said Mr Altawash.

Dr Alkhamees was due to give a talk entitled "Strangers are Blessed", which was to be followed by a question-and-answer session.


However, the conference drew the attention of gardaí after Ali Al Saleh, the imam at the Ahlul Bayt Islamic Centre in Milltown, south Dublin, warned them of the impending visit.

He claimed that Dr Alkhamees and fellow Kuwaiti scholar Dr Khaled Alotaibi, an expert in Sharia law, are both jihad preachers.

Muslim leader Imam Umar al-Qadri has also expressed his concerns over "radical" scholars preaching to young students in Ireland.

"My concern would be that such people and their ideas radicalises young Muslims," he told the Irish Independent.

"I believe that foreign preachers coming to Ireland should sign an agreement that they respect and abide by certain guidelines in order to preach here," he said.

He spoke about signing a statement denouncing Islamic terrorists like Osama bin Laden while promising to show respect and tolerance for the LGBT community.