Tag Archives: Newstalk Talking Point

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From top: Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri [founder of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council]; The launch of an ‘anti-extremism declaration’ by the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council in Trinity College Dublin on Thursday night; podcast of yesterday’s Talking Points

Newstalk’s Talking Point with Sarah Carey yesterday morning, discussed the response to ‘Islamic terrorism at home and abroad’.

The panel included Declan Power, security analyst and former soldier who has worked in support of UN missions; Roja Fazaeli, lecturer in Islamic studies at Trinity College Dublin; Carol Hunt, Independent Alliance Seanad candidate on the NUI panel and Sunday Independent columnist; and Julien Mercille, lecturer at UCD and ‘sheet columnist.

Earlier this month the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council [IMPIC] released  an ‘anti-extremism declaration’ stipulating that it should be a visa condition for foreign speakers.

IMPIC held a meeting in Trinity College Dublin last Thursday in which visiting muslim speaker Shaykh Fakhruddin Owaisi, chairman of the Council of Sunni Imams in Cape Town, South Africa, signed the declaration.

Both Declan Power and Carol Hunt had attended the meeting alongside diplomatic staff from France, Egypt, Turkey and Iran, and the Pakistani and Belgian embassies to Ireland.

Grab a tay…

Sarah Carey: “Declan Power, you were at that seminar in Trinity during the week about preventing radicalisation and, at it, a statement was produced. The person running it was Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri [founder of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council] and it’s a statement that he wants all visiting Muslim lecturers to sign and it says things like, ‘I unequivocally reject, disown and condemn all terrorism committed in the name of Islam by any militant group… I believe that terrorism is never a legitimate and honourable act of war, but is always a cowardly act of indiscriminate murder’ and it goes on. Now, I can see what they’re trying to do. That if radicalising lecturers are coming in, they want them to sign this and, if they don’t, we’ll know that they’re one of the bad guys. But could you imagine, in the 1980s, going to the UK, and you want to give a lecture somewhere and somebody produces this statement that you have to sign…”

Power: “Yeah, yeah.”

Carey:Is it not really insulting?

Power: “Well now hold on…”

Julien Mercille:Yes.”

Power: “There’s a number of…”

Carey: “It was brought up..”

Power: “It was brought up, yeah, and there’s a couple of points here that we can’t gloss over and, just to take what Carol [Hunt] was saying, just to take it a stage further. Despite the repressive era, I wouldn’t dispute anything you’re saying, but that didn’t produce terrorism in Ireland in itself. Not to get bogged down in that..”

Carey: “I’m… yeah..”

Power: “But there were a number of other factors and this kind of links in with what both Roja and Julien were saying and the varying factors. We can’t ignore it. The former Australian soldier and practitioner and theorist in counter insurgency David Kilcullen talks and wrote about the accidental terrorist. And an awful lot of people in this current iteration of terrorism have found themselves becoming terrorists by a combination of bizarre and unusual factors of disenchantment, of a whole variety of things. Like, for instance, IS prospered largely because the Iraqi officer core were disestablished and they weren’t ideologues so much themselves. But they were mad as hell that their prestige had been taken away from them, their rank in society and they gave IS their military prowess, the planning and the execution of the military operations that gave them success. They’re not the guys you see cutting people’s heads off or roaring and shouting. They’re not into that side of things. And we kind of forget some of the factors. And, you know, Kilcullen is scathing in his criticism of the US in terms of how they misinterpret it, things and they did, so it comes back to, in terms of dealing with terrorism what you’ve got to do is, first of all, not alienate those who are on your side which now brings me to your point. Eventually, I apologise. But I think it was important, maybe, just to give context.”

Carey: “Yeah, that’s OK.”

Power: “I hear, I don’t know about the rest of you, but every time there’s an attack of an outrage of some sort there’s usually some very hard-nosed people who will say, oh, you know, ‘why don’t they give out about it, we don’t see the muslims standing up for it’. And I will usually counter it and say, ‘well I’ve heard X or Y’. Now here in Dublin we’ve seen Shaykh Al-Qadri and a number of others, you know, he’s not just talking of his own benefit, stand up, a muslim-driven initiative within the muslim community and where they’re not asking the State to do it, they’re attempting to give leadership to their own community to say, ‘well this is what we stand for’ and they’re using this as an exhibit, like it or lump it, this declaration. They’re not asking all muslims to have to sign it or even all mosques. They’re talking about people coming into our lives..”

Mercille: “There’s a bit of a trap there though.”

Power: “Hold on, I support the concept of that..”

Hunt: “There were muslim people there who supported this absolutely.”

Power: “They’re damned if they do and they’re damned if they don’t.”

Mercille:There’s a trap there.

Talk over each other

Hunt:By saying that you’re infantilising them, that they can’t make their own decisions.”

Mercille: “As Sarah was saying to ask muslims, ‘oh, do you, do you oppose this act of terrorism?’ Like you said we don’t do that to any of us when some of our states bomb Syria and Iraq right? Muslims are not responsible.”

Carey: “Roja, how do you feel about this statement?”

Roja Fazaeli: “To be honest, well I wasn’t at the talk so I suppose the discussion that went on is important to understanding it as well. I read some part of it, I read the Irish Times. The statement itself I don’t have a problem with and I agree that, you know, there is always talks about the muslims themselves doing it even though I have a problem even with saying ‘the muslims’ because who are these muslims? The diversity and so on. You just take so much away from even lumping everyone as ‘muslims’. I know Shaykh Al-Qadri and I know where his heart lies and I don’t think it’s a negative thing for this to be out. I don’t know how it’s going to be implemented, it will be interesting to see where it goes…”

Hunt: “He did say it was a work in progress.”

Fazaeli: “And  I think that’s important.”

Carey: “But say, if you had a colleague from a university over from a university in the UK and you were inviting them over to give a talk to your class and this statement was produced and they were asked to sign it. I mean would you ask them to sign it?

Fazaeli: “Who is going to implement this? Who’s going to…”

Carey: “Ok, let’s say..”

Talk over each other

Mercille: “It’s very insulting. I would never go to a talk if I was asked, ‘do you renounce the violence of Ireland?‘”

Power: “Sorry, Sarah..”

Carey: “Do Julien, do you understand why they’re doing it. That they’re afraid of radicalised lecturers coming in here to sell a message.”

Mercille: “Maybe politically it’s a good thing because everybody is asking him to do it but it’s a trap that you don’t want to fall into. You don’t want to have to set a standard by which muslims have to apologise for everything…”

Hunt: “They’re not apologising…”

Mercille: “Well, they’re saying, ‘I renounce..'”

Power: “No, hold on a second, the key thing and I heard Dr Al-Qadri talk about this, I think, in this station. The key thing he’s asking is that visiting clerics would sign a declaration that they wouldn’t attempt to radicalise while in this country. That they wouldn’t preach against the values of this country. And this is coming from a muslim voice. And there’s one other point I wanted to give: a parallel. It’s not that long ago I can remember reading letters to the Irish Times signed by various worthy academics wanting academic boycotts of Israel and various other types of limitations in Israel. Now I’m not saying that Israel doesn’t have issues to answer, at times, but I’m always very uncomfortable about things where you’re trying to limit people. So I did give this whole thing consideration. And, at the end of the day, if I was an Irish academic in the 1980s going over to lecture in history or something like that and the British state asked me to sign a declaration…”

Hunt: “But it’s not the state, it would be…”

Power: “Well sorry, yeah..”

Hunt: “Fellow Irish..”

Power: “Even if the British state had asked me to sign it I would sign it because I would understand how important it was for Irish people at that time to be able to stand up and say, ‘I’m an Irish citizen and what they’re doing, this group, is nothing to do with me and I don’t want to be seen as an instrument of radicalisation’.”

Carey: “I want to let Roja back in on that.”

Fazaeli: “You said something there Declan about this being signed by muslim clerics because I hear kind of contradicting, is it clerics? Or lecturers? There’s a huge difference. So…”

Power: “As I understood it was aimed primarily at visiting clerics who are coming to preach who would be in a powerful position to influence.”

Talk over each other

Hunt:The analogy that was given that there are in universities in Britain, they said they had heard very extremist talks given in lectures and that’s what they tried to stop.”

Carey: “But Carol do you not see how it’s setting up a dichotomy? That there’s us and them and they have to declare themselves…”

Hunt: “No but they, and this was actually brought up at the discussion and the muslim representatives, the clerics there said no, it’s not us and them, it’s us. This is all us. This is what we are trying t do.”

Carey: “So the fact that it’s coming from them, from the muslim community…”

Hunt: “From them, yes, they said this is what they are doing, this is the important thing.”

Talk over each other

Hunt:Not me that’s what they said, the same arguments came up and that’s what they said.”

Fazaeli: “As I said I wasn’t there that night but there is something to be said again, saying that, you know, Shaykh Al-Qadri is speaking for all muslims in Ireland because there is..”

Power: “But he’s not..”

Hunt: “No he’s not..”

Fazaeli: “He’s not, no but we shouldn’t think that he is or..”

Power: “I agree, I agree..”

Fazaeli: “And he is a good voice, it’s not that he’s not but he’s…”

Power: “He’s an alternative voice.”

Fazaeli: “He’s an alternative voice, exactly.”

Power: “I agree. The best thing, I think, to come out of this is that it reminds us, this goes back to the earlier points that Roja was saying that there are layers and nuances and differentiations within the Islamic community in Ireland and elsewhere and it’s giving a platform to a debate within the muslim community being had in public. And I, for one, welcome it and I endorse it…”

Carey: “So Julien does it make any difference to you that this is coming from within the muslim community, it’s not, you know, Christians in Ireland imposing this.”

Mercille: “Well it’s OK but for the reasons you said I agree with you, it’s setting up this us and them thing. In Ireland, you know…”

Carey: “But it’s coming from them, this statement is coming from them…”

Mercille: “It’s ok yeah, it may be better than non-muslims forcing them to do it but it doesn’t mean I think the statement is amazing or anything like that. I don’t think it’s the worst thing ever.”

Power: “But do you not welcome the bit of discussion and debate that it’s giving rise to…”

Talk over each other

Mercille: “But when you force people…Look, the thing is, let’s say you want to talk about Ireland, what we should do. We talked about the muslims now for 45 minutes, right? We should talk about what the Irish government can do…Shannon Airport hasn’t been mentioned yet on this show.”

Power: “Well do you want to mention Shannon? I read your piece about Shannon…”

Talk over each other

Power: “And I noticed that you left out the two UN resolutions.”

Talk over each other

Carey: “Let him make his point about Shannon.”

Mercille:Shannon Airport is the one contribution Ireland has made to allow US troops to go bomb the Middle East, right? So if there’s one thing we could do to reduce the threat of terrorism on Ireland it’s to close Shannon Airport to US troops.”

Hunt:Why?

Mercille:Because terrorists react to foreign policy. If you don’t understand that you shouldn’t be part of the discussion…”

Hunt:No they don’t. No, no, no, no, no, actually”

Mercille:Yes, they do.”

Hunt:No, no.”

Mercille: “Intelligence agencies agree with me, right? It’s not just me. CIA knows that very well. If you bomb the country and there’s a response to it you shouldn’t be surprised and there will be more on Europe, there will be more on the US…”

Power: That’s very irresponsible.”

Talk over each other

Power: “I have to come in there because there’s a degree of, Julien, with all due respects, I read your piece. It was in The Journal and again everyone’s entitled to their opinion but I’ve a concern here Julien because you’re kind of doing this from the luxury of not giving full context. First of all, the reason that Shannon is in use, there are two particular points here that are very relevant. The reason Shannon is in use is not because of some little secret agreement between the Irish government and the US – there are two UN resolutions that underpin the reconstruction and stabilisation of both Iraq and Afghanistan. And as part of that it’s facilitating those US, those UN resolutions. If it was another…”

Mercille:So Shannon is being used for the reconstruction of Iraq, is that what you said?

Power: “Hold on a second..”

Mercille: “That’s what you said.”

Power: That’s not what I’m saying, it’s not what I’m saying, it’s what the United Nations are saying and we’re members of the United Nations and we can’t pick and choose..”

Mercille: “That’s just not true, look.”

Power: “Oh you want to dismiss…”

Mercille: “If you don’t understand that Shannon is used to bomb the Middle East..”

Power: “You’re an academic, I suggest you get your facts right…”

Mercille: “If you don’t understand that Shannon is used to bomb the Middle East just go talk to soldiers or something..”

Power: “Hang on a second, hold on a second. I was, let me finish this. I was a soldier, I’ve gone beyond the lofty halls of academia.”

Mercille: “You’re arguing that Shannon Airport is used to reconstruct Iraq? That’s…”

Power: “Hold on, hold on, no there’s an important point here Julien, I don’t mind you disagreeing with me but let’s stay in the realm of fact. For a start, the aircraft that fly through Shannon are transport aircraft, they have troops on them, they have a certain degree of their personal weapons and whatever else. And they’re flying out as part of UN-sponsored, UN-endorsed missions. Now, do you accept that fact?”

Mercille: “The US military there…”

Power: “Do you accept the fact?”

Mercille: “The US military there is going to…”

Power: “Because we’re going to be arguing at cross purposes here…”

Mercille: “…Afghanistan right and operations in the Middle East right. If you want to pitch that under a UN fig leaf or some…”

Talk over each other

Power: “You seem to think I’m making this up as I go along. Ok, we’re not going to get anywhere on this. You don’t accept that there are two UN resolutions underpinning the use of Shannon Airport.”

Mercille: “I don’t accept that Shannon Airport is used for peaceful purposes by the US military.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Clash Of Civilisations

Pic: Rollingnews. Carol Hunt