An international Islamic scholar has told the Government it was not immune to Islamic extremism and urged it to act now rather than “when it is too late”.
South African cleric Shaykh Fakhruddin Owaisi al-Madani said extremism was the first step to violence and was often driven by foreign speakers.
The chair of the Council of Sunni Imams in Cape Town said this happened in South Africa and, he feared, was at risk of happening here.
He was in Dublin to back an Anti-Extremism Declaration, drawn up by the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC), outlining five principles foreign speakers agree to comply with.
Shaykh al-Madani, the first to sign the declaration, was speaking at an event organised by IMPIC and TCD Irish School of Ecumenics, attended by many foreign dignitaries.
They included US ambassador Kevin O’Malley, Belgium ambassador Philippe Ronald, Pakistan ambassador Syed Rizwan, Iran ambassador Javad Kachoueian, and French counsellor Philippe Ray.
Shaykh al-Madani said the Muslim community was “very well integrated” in South African society, with members present at the highest levels of politics, the courts, and sport.
However, he said that, “in the last few years”, that has changed and “some extremist elements have come from elsewhere”.
This has resulted in Muslims youths joining Islamic State (IS), some of whom have since come back.
“That was a wake-up call for us,” he said, adding: “Do not think your [Irish] society is immune.”
The Shaykh, who is also head of the department of religious studies at the International Peace College in Cape town, said the State needed to stop speakers coming to the country now.