Tag Archives: Islam

Sinéad O’Connor converts to Islam (BBC)

Pic via Twitter

Cork-based Journalist and human rights activist Bairbre Flood (above) has completed an hour-long radio documentary on Islam In Ireland (available to listen above or at link below).

Bairbre writes:

The radio documentary wasn’t broadcast yet I was getting messages that I shouldn’t be even discussing the subject as a white westerner.

Islam is often seen as a racial construct – and both the xenophobes and the social justice warriors buy into the orientalist view of Islam as a racial identity, not an idea (or set of ideas).

It’s very difficult to have a conversation about the doctrine of Islam within these parameters – everyone tiptoeing around the core tenets, either afraid they’ll inflame the bigots or of being labelled ‘Islamophobic’.

But surely we can hold Islam to the same standards we would fundamentalist Christianity for example – or Catholicism, or Scientology? It’s not a criticism of Muslim people themselves to examine the religion of Islam.

Perhaps the most well known mosque in Ireland, the Irish Islamic Cultural Centre (Clonskeagh Mosque) houses the headquarters of the European Council for Fatwa and Research which issued two particularly worrying fatwas – in 2003, a fatwa stating the punishment for apostasy is death, and one in 2004 stating that all gays should be killed.

The Dublin and Cork Islamic Cultural Centres have been given hundreds of thousands of euros from the al Maktoub Foundation in the UAE, and their particular kind of Wahhabi Islam has a political aim, not just a religious or spiritual one (the ‘Vatican of Islam in Ireland’ as one commentator dubbed them).

Ali Selim, who was secretary to the Imam at the Clonskeagh Mosque is an active supporter of sharia law (see his talk, ‘The Concept of Shari’ah, Islamic Law’ from 2013).

The day after the Charlie Hebdo attck in 2015, Selim was on national radio urging people not to link the attacks with Islam and threatening legal action on any Irish journalist or media outlet which printed the cartoon cover of the magazine published in honour of the people who’d just been killed.

Of course, the IICC doesn’t represent all muslims in Ireland (or even all Sunni Muslims) – there’s a large Ahmadiyya mosque in Galway and also a substantial Sufi community in Dublin. There’s over fifty mosques or prayer rooms throughout the country, most of these funded by the congregation themselves.

There’s over fifty different nationalities within the Muslim community and within that huge differences in how strict individuals are, and variations in how they practice their faith.

Some don’t pray at all, but still identify strongly as Muslim – like many people in Ireland who still identify as Catholic, but rarely go to mass andonly nominally believe in its doctrine. But even with all that in mind, there has been very little research into what Irish Muslims believe and how strongly they believe it.

The only opinion poll on Muslim attitudes was carried out for the Irish Independent and RTÉ’s Prime Time in 2006 and it found that more than a third (36%) would prefer Ireland to be ruled under Sharia law and more than half of young Muslims (57%) believe Ireland should become an Islamic State.

Then there’s the kinds of speakers that are being invited over here.

In May, 2017 the Cork Islamic Information Centre with Discover Islam put on a talk, ‘How To Live With Your Neighbour in Western Countries’ by Uthman Lateef who in 2007 told students at Queen Mary University in the UK:  “We don’t accept homosexuality. We hate it because Allah hates it”.

In March 2016 this mosque on Shandon Street invited a speaker called Shady Al-Suleiman, who once ended a talk in Birmingham in 2014 with ‘“Give victory to all the Mujahideen all over the world. Oh Allah, prepare us for the jihad” and who 2010 organised a conference which featured a talk via phone by Anwar Al-Awlaki (of Al-Qaeda).

In May 2015, Abdurraheem Green gave a talk ‘The Prophet and his Message’ at this same Cork mosque. Green was cancelled from an event at a Montreal university in 2011 after concerns were raised over statements he made about how men may treat their wives: he said, “The husband is allowed – to prevent her from evil – to provide some type of physical force”.

When I emailed the Cork Dawah Centre about these speakers, this was their response:

‘Let me reassure you, we would not have allowed anyone to speak if we had known of any extremist views that they may have had in the past. When I looked into it in the past, as
you’re not the first to question us, many of the individuals and the organisations as a whole have come out and opposed previously held ideas. Which unsurprisingly hasn’t been widely publicised.

Members of the local community including the Gardai and various Lord Mayors have attended these events. Speakers when coming to the centre submit an outline of what they are planning to speak on so that it can be reviewed.

Most of the speakers we have invited in the past have been requested to speak on the importance of manners, not harming others, helping and caring for others in society, etc, as this is considered to be half the faith and the heaviest thing on the last day. This does not fit with the opinions you’ve expressed below. I hope I’ve allayed any fears you may have.’

The kinds of speakers being invited to mosques here and the influence of Wahhabi Islam is only one part of the problem – but at least they are in the public eye and open to scrutiny.

The even deeper problem is the more than forty Irish muslims who’ve gone to fight with ISIS since 2014, some of whom have started returning to Ireland. There’s also over 70 on a watch list, suspected of providing logistical support to terrorist groups in Europe and no anti-radicalisation programme in place here.

Yahya Cholil Staquf, general secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s biggest Muslim organization, said:

‘Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy…The West must stop ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to “Islamophobia.” Or do people want to accuse me — an Islamic scholar — of being an Islamophobe too?’ –

This isn’t to demonise in any way the thousands of Muslims living here – or to diminish the very real effect anti-Muslim bias can have on their lives, but at the same time we can start holding Islam to the same standards as we’ve done in recent years here in Ireland with Catholicism, and strive for a similar insistence on the primacy of secular values.

It’s also important for us to provide a safe environment for Muslims to critique their religion (unlike in many parts of the world where it can mean dishonour, arrest, beatings and even death).

Ireland has an opportunity to be a safe house for Muslims to publish their ideas – for ex-Muslims to feel free to tell their experiences – and for moderate, liberal Muslims to find support and solidarity here.

Islam In ireland (Soundcloud)



Dr Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland

Dr Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, spoke with Seán O’Rourke this morning following yesterday’s attacks in Brussels which left 34 people dead.

Seán O’Rourke: “The Government here has said that an attack in Ireland, that the assessment is that it’s not likely but, at the same time, we cannot consider ourselves immune from the threat. Would you agree with that assessment?”

Dr Ali Selim: “Well I think we are very immune because the problem is happening in other countries. They have talks, they can have international dimensions. As you heard some of your guests talking about some social issues over there in terms of inequality, in terms of lack of access to work and some of the other problems, that they drive members of certain communities into ghettos and push them away from activities and rights the broader society is entitled to.
But, also, it has an international dimension. So if look at some countries who are bombing muslim countries and killing muslims over there and that affects the main muslims stream in the sense that these atrocities that happen in muslim countries, they’re not condemned in actual fact. They’re accepted. And they’re seen as something usual. What happened in Brussels is an atrocity and is condemned but what is happening in Syria, on a daily basis, is also atrocity but is not condemned. Previous to that, we had three explosions in Turkey. We haven’t heard about them in the West, nobody condemned them, nobody talked about them. So it gives muslims the sense that there is a duality, double standard, a high level of hypocrisy that we need to, we need to target. People are talking about integration, in fact in today’s time, in terms of globalisation, we have to talk about developing what can be classified as common values, common…”

O’Rourke: “Right but I suppose people are most interested in what happens closest to them and it’s understandable, for instance, that the Irish media is much more fixated on what happens in Brussels today than maybe they were about what happened in Istanbul several days ago.”

Selim: “And why is that? Why that?”

O’Rourke:Because it’s close, it’s local. And they identify with places maybe that they’ve been to, that they know people who are working in these other cities. It’s not that they, it’s not that some lives are more valuable than others, it’s just, it’s just the way, the people, it’s just part of the human condition I would suggest.”

Selim: “Well in today’s world, where we live in a small village, what happens in Turkey is as close as what happens in Brussels. So I find it really difficult to accept this argument but actually what I would say that, the muslims are exposed to ethnic cleansing in a number of places all over the world and this has been, has not been brought to light. And people in the West simply don’t hear about this. You see tackling the problem of, of what people are facing in Brussels…”

O’Rourke: “Yeah but just coming back close to home, and again, you might have an interesting insight on this. I mean for instance, following the massacre of holidaymakers, including three Irish citizens on a Tunisian beach in June of last year, the Dublin Imam Shaykh Dr. Umar Al-Qadri invited muslims to march against ISIL on O’Connell Street. Now, from an estimate, is it what? 15,000 muslim people living in Ireland, only 50 or show, sorry 50 or so, showed up for that march under the banner of ‘not in our name’. Would that suggest or could people interpret from that that there’s a lack of concern?

Selim: “It’s not lack of concern actually. The way, the main mosque…”

O’Rourke: “Or maybe it’s…[inaudible]”

Selim: “No the way the main muslim organisations looked at that, they looked at it in a way that if something happens, we issue press statements, we express our condemnation, but we do not demonstrate on the street for something like this. And let me ask you…”

O’Rourke: “Why not? As a matter of interest. Wasn’t it an expression of solidarity?”

Selim: “Well if a Catholic person commits a crime in any part of the world, will you be demonstrating on O’Connell Street? You won’t be doing that you see. But you might issue a press statement and that is how…”

O’Rourke: “No but I mean if the people claiming responsibility for it were claiming that they had the authority for this for some sort of perverted interpretation of Catholicism, well then maybe people might.”

Selim: “Well I think the right way to confront it, is to confront ideology with ideology – intellectuality with intellectuality and not by demonstrating on the street.”

O’Rourke: “And are you unambiguous in your condemnation of the radicalism that’s behind these terrorism attacks?”

Selim: “Well we definitely condemn all types of atrocities, we’re conscious of the faith of the perpetrators and the victims, we condemn what happened in Brussels but, at the same time, we condemn what is happening in Syria, we condemn what happened in Turkey. For us, all blood is blood, for us, all lives are equal lives.”

O’Rourke: “Dr Ali Selim, thank you very much for coming in…”

Listen back here

992643-maryam-namazieMaryam Namazie

Human rights activist and secularist Maryam Namazie was due to give a speech about the ‘rise of Islam’ at the Society for International Affairs at Trinity College Dublin today.

Ms Namazie has pulled out after she claimed conditions were imposed by organisers following advice from ‘college security’.

On her blog Ms Namazie writes:

I wrote a blog post earlier about my refusal to abide by conditions imposed by Trinity College Dublin for my speech on Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism which I am to give this Monday.

Aoife, the chair of the society which had invited me is contesting my version of things so I find it necessary (also for transparency’s sake) to post all correspondence below.

There is not much since Aoife only contacted me last night after things came to a head. Another student organiser has been in touch with me the whole time and been arranging my visit. If there is any miscommunication, it seems to have been promulgated by Aoife to “manage” the situation in the same way that they were hoping to manage me.

Even if it was Aoife who suggested a moderator, it has come about as a result of “pressure”. Also security concerns of my antagonising the “Muslim students” and being “one-sided” which were raised with student organiser have nothing to do with student security no matter how many times Aoife says it does. [email correspondence at link below]

Aoife is trying to manage a bad situation by blaming it on miscommunication but you know what folks, I was not born yesterday.

Trinity College: I was Not Born Yesterday (Maryam Namazie)

Activist claims Trinity speech on apostasy and Islam cancelled (Aine McMahon, Irish Times)

PIc: Patheos


You may recall Dr Ali Selim?


About the RSE programme in schools Dr Selim says there are “crucial differences” with Islam. It forbids pre- and extramarital sexual relations, whereas RSE perceives sexual relations outside wedlock as part of normal practices.”
He suggests there is “a clash of values” also between Islam and “traditional ways of teaching PE”. In some schools, “under the guise of health and safety, Muslim girls are obliged to take off their headscarves for PE classes, which is not acceptable to them”.
Where schools were “persistent”, they should “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.”

Call for State schools to accommodate Islamic beliefs (Irish Times)

Previously: Not Buying What You’re Selim