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Wednesday 24 July 2019

Muslim scholar speaks about stopping Irish youth from joining Islamic State

Shaykh Dr Umar al-Qadri
during the 'Not in Our Name' protest against Islamic State Credit: Gareth Chaney Collins
Shaykh Dr Umar al-Qadri during the 'Not in Our Name' protest against Islamic State Credit: Gareth Chaney Collins

David Kearns

A prominent Muslim scholar has spoken about how he stopped an Irish youth from joining Islamic State.

Shaykh Dr Umar al-Qadri said he was approached by a young Irish Muslim (21) last year who expressed an interest in going to Iraq and fighting “in the name of Islam”.

“This vulnerable young man was very confused and did not understand that ISIS and Islamic State did not represent Islam.   

“He said to me ‘I want to fight for Islam’ and I replied, ‘What do you mean, fight for Islam?’ He said, ‘you know ISIS and Islamic State’ and I knew this young man had no clue about Islam.”

Speaking on RTE Radio One, Dr al-Qadri told the Sean O’Rourke show that the young Irish Muslim had come to associate ISIS with Islam because he was “ignorant of the Quran and Islam” in general.

“His world view was very limited. He heard the word Islamic State and all the associations made with its extremists and Islam and assumed they had created an Islamic state.”

Having spoken to the young man, Dr al-Qadri said that they had a second conversation a few weeks later where the 21-year-old told him he had come to see that ISIS did not represent Islam.

“When we spoke again, he had come to understood that.

“The problem in Ireland is that the media often uses very provocative words like ‘Islamic terrorism’ – well there is no such thing as Islamic terrorism, there’s just terrorism. If some Christian commits an act of terror, we don’t call him a Christian terrorist.

“Unfortunately many things within Islam, such as jihad, has been distorted and hijacked by extremists.”

Speaking about the launch of a new document entitled 'Irish Muslim Declaration of Peace and Guide to Prevent Radicalisation', Dr al-Qadri, who organised a protest against ISIS at the weekend, said Irish Muslims had a responsibly to stop "extremists from brain washing young people".

"The majority of Muslims in Ireland are very friendly and peaceful people but if we as a community don’t isolated those who are sympathetic to ISIS, we are opening spaces for their supporters to brainwash our youth.

"At this moment, there is a very minimum threat to Ireland but after 10 – 15 years, as the Muslim population goes, we don’t want to face the issue of extremism that other countries in Europe are currently facing."

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