Brussels attacks: Don’t blame Muslims, says Irish imam

An Irish imam who had a close call at Brussels Airport has condemned the terrorists and has urged people not to blame Islam or Muslims, but instead to see them as “allies in the war against terrorism”.

Shaykh Umar al-Qadri said Ireland had to learn from the failure to integrate Muslims with non-Muslims in countries like Belgium and must also confront radicalisation here.

The imam, who was travelling with his brother, was due to land at Brussels at around 9am, about an hour after the bombs went off in the departure hall.

“I was fortunate, so was my brother and other people, but, unfortunately, many other people were not so fortunate,” said the imam of the Islamic mosque in Blanchardstown, west Dublin.

He said the terrorists did not care who they killed: “They do not aim to attack anyone from a particular faith, they just want to kill, irrespective of background.”

The imam said the Islamic claims of the terrorists were meaningless: “These atrocities are absolutely against the teaching of Islam. Their motivation is not religious, it is political — to create mayhem, fear and anger.”

He said people should not blame Islam or Muslims: “You can’t defeat terrorism if you blame Muslims because you will push people towards radicalisation and you will push the agenda of the terrorists. Muslims are allies in the war against terrorism, not the enemy.”

He said the failure in Brussels and elsewhere to integrate was shocking: “I don’t want Ireland to make the same mistake, that is my major concern.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Ireland condemned the attacks. Imam Ibrahim Noonan said: “Until all the imams in Ireland and Europe stand up together and unite against these terrorists, such attacks won’t stop.”

He called on all imams in Ireland to “tell these radicals ‘we do not support you!’ And those who hold such views, stay away from our mosques and keep away from our country”.

The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation — comprised of representatives from 57 Islamic countries — condemned the attacks.

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