Monday, December 19, 2016

Regulate all mosques to stop radical preachers - Irish imam

http://cdn-04.independent.ie/incoming/article35303800.ece/a839e/AUTOCROP/h342/7%20NEWS%20PL27411151Shaykh%20Dr.%20Muham.jpgA leading Irish imam has called for the Government to regulate Islamic affairs in Ireland to prevent unqualified imams radicalising Muslims. 

Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, said the Government should set up "a Muslim council to regulate all affairs in Ireland such as how mosques are being run and what education they are providing".

He said the body should be supervised by the Government and provide accreditation without which imams would not be allowed to operate. The Irish Council of Imams, which he helped to found but from which he resigned last year, was not such a body, he said.

Dr Al-Qadri, who runs a mosque in Clonee, Dublin, also said although the Government monitored individuals it suspected of having extremist links, it also needed to have a strategy to monitor levels of radicalisation and an initiative to promote integration.

He said some mosques in Ireland were run by "accidental imams" who were appointed because they spoke Arabic but who had had no theological training. The result of imams' poor training, he said, was that Muslims in Ireland were "suffering because scholars are not guiding them through the challenges that face them in this country, for example helping them to reach out in the face of Islamophobia".

The topic of extremism was being tackled with young people in some, but not all mosques, he said, because in some cases the imams were not intellectually qualified to do so and in others there was a reluctance to broach such a sensitive issue.

Transparency

To improve mosques' accountability, he recommended that imams in Ireland be trained in English and required to preach in English.

"In my first two years [as an imam], I made the mistake of preaching only in Urdu. But we have to have transparency; if the sermon is in Urdu or Arabic, there's no transparency," he told the Irish Independent.

He also said that funding from overseas should be banned, "unless a proper mechanism exists to be sure funding is not coming from any organisation that does not have the same values as us".

Dr Al-Qadri said he wanted Ireland to avoid the mistakes the UK had made regarding Muslim integration.

"Look at Blackburn, in England; you have English people living there with Muslims from Pakistan and they don't say hello to one another... it's a breeding ground for radicalisation," he said.

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