The first Irishman to become an Imam in Ireland has said there have been radical Muslim extremists in Ireland for over a decade.
Ibrahim Noonan, from Waterford, said “That’s the first sign I saw, in 2003 and 2004, that even in Ireland they are trying to radicalize Muslims [in Ireland].”
Noonan, the head of the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam in Ireland, spoke to the Irish Times ahead of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association’s national convention, in Maynooth, held last weekend. The Ahmadiyya comprises of 450 of the approximately 60,000 Muslims in Ireland.
“There is a small minority who definitely will like what they see in Isis, they might find that they have a narrative for their case. That narrative has nothing to do with the teachings of Islam,” Noonan continued.
“I know Imams here who will talk about peace, but they do hold very extremist views and they will not share that with the media. All these Imams have to choose either the path of peace in totality or walk off with their twisted version of Islam.”
The sect leader said Islamophobia among the indigenous population is growing in light of recent high-profile atrocities, such as those in Sydney, Paris and Tunisia. Noonan told the Times he had recently been verbally abused in the street and had a bottle thrown at his head.
Noonan said, “People who I’ve met have said clearly to me ‘we are afraid of you, we are scared of Islam.’ It is because of what they’re watching on TV and what they’re reading in the media.
“Some are very vocal and very upfront. I’ve had bottles thrown at me, I’ve had abuse. I was walking into the mosque…and whatever way I moved slightly a bottle came just past my head and smashed off a door.”
He said the young Galway man who threw the bottle apologized shortly afterwards.
The Imam was joined by Imam Naseem Ahmed Bajwa from the Morden mosque in London. He agreed with Noonan, echoing that violence contravenes the core message of Islam.
Bajwa said, “When they (the media) use the term Islamic State again and again, we always wonder ‘how can they say this is an Islamic State’? Islam is peace, and what they are doing is totally against peace.”
The Imam of the Al-Mustafa mosque, in the Blanchardstown area of Dublin, also spoke out this weekend about the extremist Muslims in Ireland. He told the Irish Independent that there are up to 100 extremists.
Shaykh Al-Qadri said he is working with the Muslim Peace and Integration Council to promote peace but said they are meeting some resistance.
He said, “We need to stop the radicals from spreading their lies to the youth."
In one mosque, he said, the leaders never denounce the terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Al-Qadri said he was shocked the day before the Muslim Peace and Integration Council held the 'Not in Our Name' demonstration in Dublin. Dressed in casual clothes, not his usual more recognizably religious garb, he approached three teens and asked them if they would join the demonstration.
He told the Irish Independent, “They said: 'No, we hate Westerners, we are Isis' (Isil). I was shocked.
"One of them then proceeded to quote a passage from the teachings of an Islamic scholar, which he thought justified violence against non-Muslims. I then asked him to give me another quote from that book and he could not. I kept asking him about this book and also about the teachings of the Qur'an.
"It turned out he had no clue about the teachings of Islam but was just quoting this passage from someone else."
Al-Qadri added that currently extremists in Ireland are non-violent.