Islamic Extremism in Ireland (Part I): Brotherhood Thriving

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Islamic Extremism in Ireland: Part 1

The Muslim population of Ireland increased 10-fold from just under 4,000 or 0.1% of the total population in 1991 to 1.1% in 2011 (just under 50,000). Dr. Ali Selim is one of its leading figures. RTE, the national television and radio station, has just turned down a request he made for the broadcasting of a daily call to prayer to mark the end of the 2016 Ramadan fasting period.

Ramadan, which runs from June 6 to July 7, requires Muslims not to eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. RTE turned down the request because TV schedules are fixed, whereas the end of Ramadan varies from day to day. Selim reacted to the decision by declaring that “in Muslim countries the commencement of the period of fasting and its end is marked with a prayer call chanted through loudspeakers placed on the top of the minarets. It is also aired through radio and TV channels.” He seems to ignore the salient fact that Ireland is not a Muslim country.

While Selim is an outspoken and uncompromising advocate for the Irish Muslim constituency, he is less eloquent when it comes to condemning Islamic terrorism. In a 2003 interview, Irish talk-show host Pat Kenny put the following question to him:

“So there is no justification for September 11th?”

Selim replied, “This is another political issue I do not want to touch.”

In response to this refusal, Kenny retorted:

“Why not? I mean if you cannot condemn September 11th, people will draw the conclusion that you are in favor of it.”

Ali Selim came to Ireland from Egypt in 1999 and studied at Trinity College Dublin, where he obtained the degrees of M.A. and Ph.D. He lectures on Islam at the Mater Dei Institute, affiliated to Dublin City University and also teaches Arabic at Trinity College. Aside from his academic posts he serves as private secretary to the Imam at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland and as Secretary General of the Irish Council of Imams.

In another TV interview in 2006, Selim refused to judge Osama Bin Laden when pressed, saying he did not know him personally.

In his 2014 book Islam and Education in Ireland, he called for radical change in the Irish educational system to accommodate the Islamic beliefs of the 65,000 Muslims living in Ireland, 20,000 of whom he claimed were under 18 years of age. This would include modifications to the national curriculum relating to physical education, relationship and sexuality education, music, drama and the practice of Islamic rituals during school hours.

He complained that Muslim girls were being “obliged to take off their headscarves for physical education classes” and demanded that schools “employ a female PE teacher and provide students with a sports hall not accessible to men during times when girls are at play. They should also not be visible to men while at play.”

After the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, Selim threatened to sue any Irish media outlet that reproduced the offending cartoon of Mohammed.

Selim appears to be the Irish propagandist for the Muslim Brotherhood‘s Salafist interpretation of Islam and has entrenched himself in the Muslim community, assuming a leadership role and acting as a self-proclaimed spokesman. Mosques, social and educational initiatives are the instruments of this strategy and are financed by the Al Maktoum foundation in Dubai as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland is located in the same complex as the Clonskeagh mosque in south Dublin. Built and funded by Al Maktoum foundation, analysts claim it is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2007 the mosque hosted two extremist speakers. One was Saudi cleric Salman Al Awda, one of the 26 Saudi scholars who issued the 2004 fatwa calling for jihad against the Americans in Iraq. The second was Egyptian cleric Wagdy Ghoneim, who supports suicide bombing against Jews. He is banned from the UK and Canada, where he is said to be a member of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. This did not pose a problem for his visits to Ireland in 2006 and 2007.

While it already boasted one of Europe’s major mosques in Clonskeagh, in 2013, Dublin City Council granted a building permit to the Dublin Welfare Society and Muslim Centre of Ireland for an even bigger development in Clongriffin, north Dublin that was to be the largest in Europe.

The six-acre project in north Dublin included a three-storey, domed mosque with two minarets as well as apartments, shops, a kindergarten, elementary school, high school, cultural center, prayer hall, meeting rooms, creche and a 60,000 sq. ft. library with the estimated $45 million investment funded by Qatar. Two years after the permit was granted the developer, Gannon Homes, announced that the project would not be going ahead due to a lack of funding by the proposers.

Back in 2006, US Ambassador to Ireland James C. Kenny reported in a cable to the State Department that the ICCI had close links to Islamic extremists and hired as a religious teacher Abderrahmane Katrani, an Afghanistan veteran and Moroccan national wanted by Moroccan authorities for the 2003 Casablanca bombings. The head of ICCI’s European Council for Fatwa and Research Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi was banned from entry to the US in 1999. According to Kenny’s cable the Muslim Brotherhood is stronger in Ireland than anywhere in the world outside Qatar.

A fact that gives a whole new meaning to the term Emerald Isle.


Leslie Shaw is an Associate Professor at the Paris campus of ESCP Europe Business School and President of FIRM (Forum on Islamic Radicalism and Management).

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