Muslims reject leader’s claims extremism is rife

A NUMBER of mainstream Muslim organisations yesterday issued a joint statement condemning claims by a Muslim religious leader that extremism was rife among young Irish Muslims.

The bodies strongly criticised the media for publicising the views of Sheikh Dr Shaheed Satardien, who claimed that “fascist fanaticism and radicalism” was spreading rapidly among young Muslims here.

The west Dublin leader further claimed that preachers at the main mosques were stoking the extremism and that the Islamic bodies should be monitored by the State.

In yesterday’s statement, the Muslim organisations said: “We vehemently condemn all the claims made by Shaheed Satardien and accordingly conclude that this is evidently his own opinion and without evidence cannot prove otherwise.”

The response was led by the largest Muslim organisation, and mosque, in the State, the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC), in conjunction with the Islamic Foundation of Ireland, the second main mosque in Dublin.

They were joined by regional affiliate bodies of the ICC, in Cork, Galway, Cavan, Portlaoise and Limerick, as well as the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, which represents more than 2,000 young people, and other associations. They held a meeting yesterday at the ICC complex in Clonskeagh, Dublin.

Reading a joint statement afterwards, spokeswoman Summayah Kenna said: “It is without doubt that the allegations do not represent the views of the Muslim community and are not the true representation of the Muslim youth in Ireland.”

She claimed Dr Satardien’s comments were a “publicity stunt” to gain recognition, which had offended young Muslims.

However, Dr Satardien’s comments were supported by a Muslim doctor earlier yesterday.

Speaking on Newstalk radio, Dr Samir Ali said: “He is absolutely right, it is happening. You talk to people about their views on the Middle East and Lebanon and it’s horrifying, that people born in the West would have such beliefs and extreme opinions and willingness to do things.”

He claimed preachings during Friday prayers in some of the mosques had “encoded messages” to extremists, inciting them against the West.

“Children here think what happened in New York and London is cool,” he said.

Speaking afterwards, ICC executive director Dr Nooh Al Kaddo, rejected both Dr Satardien’s views and those of Dr Ali.

He said: “There is no evidence. It’s not true, this mosque and the other mosque we know what we are saying, we are working for integration.”

Businessman Dress Delmajdouv, who has lived in Cork for 36 years, said yesterday he was “fed up” with coverage claiming there were extremists in Ireland.

“If there are extremists pick them up and send them home, but leave the rest of us alone. The coverage is giving 50,000 Muslims a bad name,” he said.

He was critical of the Muslim leadership and said they were self-selected and did not represent ordinary Muslims.

Comments condemned: Some of Ireland’s Muslim leaders speak out against Dr Sartidien’s claims

Dr Ibrahim Gamati, principal of the Libyan School in Dublin:

“I was upset by the articles. I am a father of seven children. I was shocked when one of my children brought the paper home. She was very upset. She is in Trinity College, and said ‘Dad, what’s happening, what’s this guy talking about’.”

He dismissed claims by Dr Satardien that children were heading to their mother countries, like Pakistan, on their summer holidays and enrolling in fundamentalist schools.

“He is saying they’re on holiday to learn about terrorists. This is a disaster, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

He said if Dr Satardien had evidence of extremism, he should go to the police.

Ms Nuara Bazama, Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS):

“My initial reaction was this was someone waffling, with no evidence to back it up. Upon reading it, I believed it was a person seeking media attention — that’s all it was.”

Ms Bazama, a civil engineering student, said FOSIS represented more than 2,000 Muslim students in Ireland.

“They were angry and asked us to speak out on their behalf. They are afraid it will backfire on them in universities.”

Mostafidh Gani, youth coordinator of the Islamic Cultural Centre:

“I’ve not seen any of the traits Dr Satardien talked about. You will have frustrations about what’s happening in Lebanon, for example, but you do not have this fascist ‘kill all the non-Muslims’ attitude, killing innocent civilians and setting off bombs here and there — no way, no way.

“That’s just a spurious allegation made by Dr Satardien, basically a publicity stunt by him.”

He said the young people he spoke to were hurt and upset by the allegations.

Dr Nooh Al Kaddo, executive director, Islamic Cultural Centre:

“In any society, you will see some people with extreme views. To my knowledge, we do not have such people in Ireland. However, I cannot say there is not any.”

Dr Al Kaddo said that when any extremist group comes over from Britain, they refuse to deal with them.

Interviews by Cormac O’Keeffe.

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