A prominent Muslim figure had called for a dedicated and ‘friendlier’ garda system for reporting concerns or suspicions regarding radicalisation.
Faheem Bukhatwa, a senior leader in the Libyan community, said gardaí and the Muslim community, in general, need to take “preventative action”.
He believes that a phone contact system, not one run by anti-terrorism officers but staffed by community gardaí and professionals like psychologists, should be set up.
“I am pretty concerned for the Irish community as a whole,” said Mr Bukhatwa.
“We do not want anything to happen. The Muslim community do not want anything wrong to happen to anybody, not only for those people who might be affected but the Muslim community who will suffer if anything happens.”
The college lecturer said measures should be brought in now to try and stop anything from happening.
“Preventative action needs to be taken. Gardaí will need to do that and the Muslim community, in general, needs to take part in that.
“We need to fight this menace which is taking young people and turning them into monsters.”
He added: “If people could contact a number if they have suspicions. There’s always someone who knows something — a brother, a sister or a mother.”
But he said the phone line should not be run by garda anti-terrorism officers or, at least, operated along those lines only.
“If someone rings with a suspicion, they don’t just want an anti-terrorism response and a raid and an arrest,” he said. “They want to ring someone and feel the problem is treated and have a more friendly point of contact.”
He said this unit could have psychologists as well as gardaí to help the individuals and their families.
He said gardaí did hold clinics at mosques every two to three weeks, or so, where people can bring to garda ethnic liaison officers any issues they have.
“There are clinics in mosques but they are more for help or in relation to residence problems. Maybe the gardaí could emphasise that they are also there if anyone knows a vulnerable person who is being radicalised or they have some concern.”
He said he did have a concern that radicalising was occurring in Ireland.
“I personally feel there is a small level of radicalisation going on,” he said. “Since the Syria and Libya crises, people have been convinced to travel. Gardaí should look into that situation.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved