Dialogue is the only way to prevent acts of evil, an imam said yesterday, as the assistant garda commissioner insisted that An Garda Síochána was monitoring radicalisation in Ireland closely.
Commenting at the annual conference of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Ireland (AMAI), held yesterday at the CityWest Hotel in Saggart, South Dublin, Detective Chief Superintendent Michael O’Sullivan insisted it is wrong to associate radicalisation with ethnic minorities.
“We’re constantly pro-actively monitoring any possibilities of a problem,” Det O’Sullivan said. “We’ve had a number of individuals who have left the country to go to fight abroad, as they would say, but we’re constantly monitoring the situation.”
Det O’Sullivan insisted that An Garda Síochána has built up good relationships with the ethnic communities in Ireland, and this helps the organisation address any signs of radicalism immediately.
“We have very close ties with the ethnic minority communities, we have ethnic liaison officers that specialise in collaborating and working with these communities and ensuring that, should we see any radicalisation, to [address] it,” he said. “Nobody wants it [radicalisation] — neither us nor the ethnic minorities.
“We’re very aware of the dangers of radicalisation and we only have to look abroad to see it. I think it’s wrong, when somebody mentions ethnic minorities to suddenly think of radicalisations.”
Det O’Sullivan said it is unfortunate that all Muslims are viewed in a bad light, on foot of international terror attacks, and that education is key to understanding.
“People tend to think of radicalisation and then everyone gets tainted with these broad brush strokes,” he said. “There’s a minority who is giving everyone a bad name, and making life difficult for everyone.
“There’s a piece there for people to be educated and understand.”
Iman Ibrahim Noonan, the first Irish Iman, who leads a community in Galway, stressed that dialogue is needed to foster greater understanding amongst different communities.
“We keep seeing this unacceptable tragic behaviour, evil acts of terror, which are brought down on the innocent civilians of Europe,” Iman Noonan said. “There’s no justification in any shape or any form by the so-called Muslims because their actions and their deeds have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam. It does not even come close to representing Islam.
“Because of this evil which is being now brought into Europe, the general population of Europe are afraid and scared and they have every right to be, and they have every right to have that anxiety.
“Dialogue is actually what is needed and it has to happen. The governments and the law enforcement agencies need to have that dialogue with the Muslim communities. They need to sit down with them and with us, and have this discussion, and they need to know the difference between what is Islam and what is not Islam.”
Minister of State at the Department of Justice David Stanton also argued that dialogue between communities is key.
“We have seen recently through the lens of world events how some people have attempted to justify atrocities perpetrated against innocent members of the public in the name of religion. No right thinking person can condone such actions,” Mr Stanton said.
“Given the multicultural nature of our society as it stands, and the importance of the Muslim community within Irish society, ongoing dialogue between people of different belief systems and faiths can be a powerful tool in building, enhancing and supporting understanding and tolerance.”