Clonskeagh mosque rejects US claims

Thu, Apr 28, 2011, 01:00

IRELAND’S LARGEST Sunni mosque has tried to counter the perception, outlined in a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, that it is dominated by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI), in Clonskeagh, Dublin, features heavily in a July 2006 memo written by then US ambassador James Kenny to then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and copied to other US embassies in Europe and the Middle East.

The cable details the embassy’s impressions of the dynamics shaping Islam in Ireland. It pays particular attention to the Clonskeagh centre, including its role as headquarters of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, a body headed by the controversial Muslim Brotherhood-linked cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Mr Kenny concludes the council is “little more than a paper tiger”.

The memo also includes the views of critics within Ireland’s Muslim population who allege senior figures at the Clonskeagh centre are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential transnational Islamist movement.

“We welcome everybody to come and perform the acts of worship without allowing them to use the mosque for promoting certain agendas,” the centre said yesterday.

“This applies to even our employees, who might have a certain way of thinking or adopt a certain school of thought, but they are not allowed to use the ICCI or its facilities to promote their own personal views or agenda. ICCI management takes full responsibility for the services it provides and the activities it organises, not for how the worshippers think or what affiliations they have.”

The centre also argued that it calls for “integration and peaceful coexistence of Muslims and non-Muslims”.

The US cable had claimed that “only a few voices calling for integration can be heard” within Ireland’s Muslim population. The loudest, it said, were “Shaheed Satardien, Allama Zille Umar Qadri and Mian Ghulam Bari and his son Mazhar Bari”.

Mr Qadri said yesterday the cable reflected “90 per cent of the reality of the situation” in 2006. He said much had changed since then, with more co-ordination between institutions and individuals and a greater emphasis on the need for integration.

The cable said “one of the most pro-democracy and pro-USG policy Islamic voices in Ireland” was that of Ali al-Saleh, imam at the Shia mosque in Milltown, Dublin. It claimed the embassy had been helping him to gain a higher profile, including in the media.

Reached by phone in Iran, where he is travelling on pilgrimage, Dr al-Saleh said he did not take issue with the cable’s portrayal of him.

“It was the truth at the time. The Shias were supportive of the role the US played in getting rid of Saddam Hussein. We were pro-US in terms of their role in promoting democracy in the region. This is a matter of principle.”

Dr Saleh confirmed he had received assistance from the US embassy in writing what the cable described as a “positive Op-Ed” (opinion piece) on the third anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. The piece, which Dr Saleh says he initiated, was published in The Irish Timesin March 2006.

Yahya al-Hussein, imam at Dublins South Circular Road mosque – which the memo alleged was viewed as an “extremist” mosque – could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Bari family, described as the “sponsors” of Blackpitts mosque in Dublin – which the cable claimed was a “suspected . . . gathering place for some radical elements” – could not be reached either.