An Irish imam said he is concerned about those in the community who are providing “moral support” to extremism and terrorism.
Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri said that while the activities of Garda units, detailed in yesterday’s Irish Examiner, were welcome, he still believed there were “gaps” that needed to be closed.
Shaykh Al-Qadri, imam at the Sunni mosque in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, said he did not believe the Garda Racial, Intercultural, and Diversity Office (GRIDO) was able to “address” the moral support given to extremism online, in certain mosques and some Muslim student groups.
The imam said there was a particular issue of foreign speakers, with radical views, being invited to the country to address mosques and student meetings.
In yesterday’s Irish Examiner, Sergeant Dave McInerney, who heads the office, said they had good relations with mosques and they kept gardaí aware of issues of concern to them, including people with extremist views.
Sgt McInerney also said he was aware of concerns regarding foreign speakers, but pointed out it was a “hard one to control”.
He said he was also aware of the views of some student groups, but said the GRIDO did not have structured relations with them.
“This office is crucial for community cohesion and a sense of belonging,” said Shaykh Al-Qadri. “However, do we see this office eliminating the threat of extremism? It won’t. I have high regard for Sergeant Dave. He is a lovely person. But I do not think his office understands.”
He said the office will not be told about extremist speakers from the very mosques and organisations that are inviting them.
“If you are talking to organisations that are inviting extremist radical preachers, how do you expect them to tell you? They won’t tell you.”
Shaykh Al-Qadri, chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, said: “I’m concerned about those providing the moral support to extremists, saying ‘they [Islamic State] are good, they are defending themselves against a superpower that is giving the Muslim world a hard time’. This creates ambiguity.”
He said a second garda unit, Counter Terrorism International, was also very important, but said they dealt with terrorists and terror attacks.
“I’m worried about what leads to the terror attacks — the extremism,” he said. “It doesn’t just happen. Young people are not suddenly radicalised. We need to make sure we close all gaps.”
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