Large numbers of young women are being lured from Europe to join the Islamic State militant group and become “jihadist brides,” and a leading academic says there are growing concerns that Irish teens could be duped online.
Dr Maura Conway, a senior lecturer in international security at the School of Law and Government in Dublin City University, says it's important that parents and the government recognize the threat.
"Islamic State (ISIL) is increasingly reaching out so literally any young person, anywhere, could be influenced by their message," Dr Conway told the Sunday Independent.
"I don't think people should be panicked and we don't want to over-hype things, but it's certainly not impossible," she said.
"The internet is playing a significant part in violent radicalization. It seems like some jihadi brides in the UK have been influenced by online content consumption and interaction," said Dr Conway, the coordinator of Vox-Pol – a project focused on researching the impacts of violent online political extremism.
Dr Conway said that while there is significant concern about young Muslims, people of other faiths are also converting under the influence of ISIL.
Last week, parents from Ireland's Muslim community called for "tougher restrictions" on access to Islamaphobic content, including beheadings, shootings and mass executions.
Fardus Sultan, a Muslim mother and business woman said: "Muslims have an added concern with extremism online. We still face the same issues as all parents but nowadays we have that element as well."
"We have to be very vigilant about access, whether it's pornography, pedophilia or terrorism," she said.
Sultan said the Muslim community is not greatly concerned about their children being lured out of Ireland.
"Irish Muslims are so well integrated, it's only when things like this emerge that suddenly you have people worrying, but in effect, Irish Muslims, both young and old, are part of the Irish society," she said.
Trinity College lecturer Dr Ali Selim, one of the most senior Muslim clerics in Ireland, said he is confident that Isil "would not be attracted" to Muslims in Ireland.
"Ireland is not involved in any war in any part of the world, and as a result of that, Ireland has a very neutral attitude regarding the international issue," he said.
"Islamophobia cannot flourish unless there is an unhealthy attitude that allows it to flourish, and I don't think that will take place in Ireland at all," he said.
However, the Muslim community is frustrated by "misrepresentations" of their faith in the media in the wake of the devastating terror attack in Tunisia, in which 38 people were killed.
"We are in the holy month of Ramadan and we are trying to get closer to God and being good towards each other, and for someone to carry out those atrocities in the name of Islam, is horrific," said Sultan.
"I feel like I have to apologize for someone else's actions, but I actually don't want to apologize because I don't recognize him as someone who is like me, so I keep saying 'it's not in our name; it's not in our faith'," she said.