I stopped a young Irish Muslim from travelling to fight with IS

Dr Umar Al-Qadri

Alan O'Keeffe

A leading Muslim scholar revealed he stopped an Irishman from travelling to Iraq to fight "in the name of Islam".

Shaykh Dr Umar al-Qadri said he was approached by a 21-year-old Irish Muslim last year, who told him he wanted to leave Ireland to join IS.

"This vulnerable young man was very confused and did not understand that Islamic State does not represent Islam," he said.

"He said to me: 'I want to fight for Islam'. I replied: 'What do you mean, fight for Islam?' He said: 'You know Islamic State'. I knew this young man had no clue about Islam."

Dr al-Qadri told The Sean O'Rourke Show on RTE Radio One yesterday that the young Irish Muslim had come to associate IS 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," he said.

After further conversations, the young man told him he had come to see that IS did not represent Islam.

"When we spoke again, he had come to understand that," Dr al-Qadri said.

"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, have been distorted and hijacked by extremists," he added.

Speaking about the launch of a new document entitled 'Irish Muslim Declaration of Peace and Guide to Prevent Radicalisation', Dr al-Qadri said Irish Muslims had a responsibility to "stop extremists from brainwashing young people".

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

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