Young Muslims in Ireland are being radicalised by a combination of social media and extreme Islamic preachers angry and frustrated over Western countries’ policies, a leading Islamic theologian has warned.
Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri, of the Al Mustafa Islamic Centre in Dublin, used a lecture to launch a new anti-radicalisation website aimed at promoting the true values of Islam and encouraging people to report extremism.
Speaking at Waterford Institute of Technology, Dr Al-Qadri said terrorists who kill in the name of their religion are adhering to a "radical interpretation of Islam" and spreading this interpretation, particularly among young Muslims in western countries.
This is happening, he said, because of money being distributed internationally by the extreme Wahhabism sect which is mainly found in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“They call other Muslims infidels and non-believers,” he said. “With the help of funding from petroleum exports, the movement has undergone an explosive growth, beginning in the 1970s and now as a worldwide influence,” he said.
Dr Al-Qadri, who has lived in Ireland for 14 years having come from Pakistan and, before that, The Netherlands, said all the Islamic terrorist groups such as Islamic State, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram come from the Wahhabi sect. However, worldwide, Wahhabism accounts for just 3 per cent of Muslims.
"We, as Muslims, acknowledge there is a problem with Muslim extremists," he told The Irish Times. "There are extremists, a small number and a small percentage, but they are there."
He said he did not agree with the controversial cartoons in the Paris-based Charlie Hebdo magazine. "Some of them did offend me" he said, but nothing in Islam gave the right to respond with violence.
“In Ireland the Muslim youth has been exposed to a number of radical and extreme preachers, belonging to the Wahhabi sect. Young Muslims are vulnerable to radicalisation due to their anger and frustration concerning dual standards of Western countries’ policies in the Muslim world.
“Some members of the Irish Muslim youth have travelled to Iraq and Syria … These youngsters were radicalised by extremist preachers in person and through social media.”
The jihad.info website will contain articles and lectures from Muslim scholars on the "authentic teachings of Islam," he said, while also giving people a platform to "report extremist activities". These will then be passed on to the authorities. "That is our duty as a Muslim."