A Muslim cleric in Ireland plans to launch a new “anti-radicalisation” website on Thursday aimed at eliminating the threat posed by extremism.
Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri said the site would provide an information and contact service, including a confidential system for reporting radical preachers or suspect foreign fighters.
He said a small number of European Muslim youth, including Irish, have travelled to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to join militant groups, such as al-Qaeda, Isis and Taliban, in recent years.
“A lot of these youngsters were recruited or inspired through social media or physically by someone who gave them the wrong understanding, a distorted understanding, of jihad,” said Shaykh Al-Qadri, who runs the Islamic Educational and Cultural Centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin.
“Jihad is a religious obligation, but their jihad is distorted — their’s is to fight the non-believer and impose Sharia law. It is not what the Quran teaches or the prophet has taught.”
He said the website will teach and educate them what jihad is supposed to be about and “eliminate understanding”.
Shaykh Al-Qadri said that some people have returned from Iraq and Syria and are still radicalised. He said it was the responsibility of Muslim leaders to contribute to a peaceful society and fight against extremism.
He said the site will provide not just an information service but also a way to contact the Islamic Centre. It will also provide a confidential system for reporting suspicious activity or persons.
“They can inform us of anything suspicious or if someone might be a threat, or an extremist preacher. They can let us know and we can liaise with the gardaí for example,” he said. “Extremist hate preachers and extremists individuals can be a threat to peace and at the same time menace to the peaceful image of Islam.”
He said people on the site will also be able to meet up with them in person: “They could meet for face-to-face contact with a scholar. That includes people who are thinking of going over to Syria or who are coming back and still radicalised. It’s an opportunity for them to come in and talk to someone and we will do our best.”
The site has been developed and designed by young Muslims based at the Blanchardstown centre: “There is a team involved in the design, as I do not know how to do it, a team of youngsters in the project here who wanted to do it.”
He said it was one initiative in a wider strategy: “This is all part of a project of deradicalisation of the youth. There needs to be a platform like this and no mosque or Islamic centre is providing such a platform.”
The website will be launched formally on Thursday at 5.30pm at the Waterford Institute of Technology, where the Shaykh Al-Qadri is delivering a lecture on Islam, Jihad and Terrorism.
The lecture is organised by the Religious Studies and Theology research group at WIT.