Cablegate: Ireland: Islam in Europe (C-Di5-01478)

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2014

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1. (U) Summary. Embassy Dublin salutes the initiative of
Washington analysts (ref A.) to look at the role of Islamic
thinkers across Europe. In 2004, we launched a new outreach
program to Muslims in Ireland, a group that has grown rapidly
in recent years from a population of less than 4,000
according to a 1991 census to a population the GOI estimates
to be more than 30,000. To build dialogue with this
community, the Ambassador, DCM, POL/ECON Chief, and emboffs
have met with Sunni and Shi'a leaders, hosted events, and
nominated Muslims for the International Visitors program. In
this outreach we have heard three main voices of Islam in
Ireland: conservatives with potential radical elements (to
include Muslim Brotherhood, led by adherents of Yusuf Al
Qaradawi), integrationists, and the pro-U.S. minority Shi'a
community. Our comments reflect our work with the community
in Dublin, where the majority of Muslims in Ireland live.
Sunni Muslims tend to worship primarily at the Islamic
Cultural Center of Ireland (ICCI). According to a mosque
spokesman, approximately 1,000 Muslims from numerous Islamic
countries regularly attend Friday services and around
3,000-4,000 Muslims attend special events at the center.
Other smaller Sunni Mosques, with attendance likely in the
low hundreds, include South Circular Road Mosque (AKA Islamic
Foundation of Ireland), and Black Pitts (300-500 regular
attenders) and Clonee (100-200) Mosques, the latter two home
primarily to Pakistani worshippers. Most of the Shi'a
Muslims in Dublin, approximately 250 Iraqi immigrants,
worship at the Ahlul Bait, or Milltown Mosque. There are
small communities of Muslims in other large cities, such as
Cork, Limerick and Galway. End Summary.

2. (U) Please see below answers to reftel questions:

A. How, and with what success, are groups such as the
Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR),
seeking greater recognition for Islamic law in Europe?

3. (C) The Dublin-based ECFR is chaired by an Egyptian born,
Qatar-based highly influential cleric and leading member of
Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. His ECFR
presidency establishes a certain amount of notoriety in
Ireland for the ECFR, which is housed at the Islamic Cultural
Center of Ireland (ICCI), commonly referred to as "the
Clonskeagh Mosque." In conversations with emboffs, key
integrationist Muslims and at least one journalist charge
that ICCI answers to Al Qaradawi. ECFR's influence is likely
to be significant considering that its members, all prominent
clerics, hail from France, UK, Spain, Norway, Germany,
Belgium, Bosnia, Switzerland, as well as the Middle East.
The infrequency of the formal meetings complicates our
ability to gauge the effectiveness of the ECFR; the ECFR
holds two formal meetings annually, one in Ireland, the other
to rotate among European cities (though Istanbul hosted the
conference in June 2005 and June 2006). ECFR-Dublin has no
full-time staff members, but three of ICCI's officials,
including the mosque's Imam as General Secretary carry out
ECFR responsibilities. ECFR-Dublin's mission statement does
not claim to seek greater recognition for Islamic law in
Europe; but rather describes its goal as providing spiritual,
social and legal guidance to Muslims living here. According
to an ECFR staff member, it is not a proselytizing body that
counts converts but a body that provides clarity of Islamic
law (Shariah) and its application to European Muslims.

4. (C) In the book, "Fatwas of European Council for Fatwa
and Research", distributed by ICCI, Al Qaradawi claims that
due to economic migration, there are now 50 million European
Muslims. The growing number of Muslims in Europe, Al
Qaradawi claims, produced the current European Islamic
resurgence that requires Islamic organizations such as ECFR
to maintain religious connections with groups in the Middle
East and to serve as regional centers for instructions and
guidance. According to Al Qaradawi, the ECFR's objective is

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"to promote a uniform Fatwa (religious edict) in Europe and
to prevent controversy and intellectual conflicts regarding
the respective issues wherever possible." He also claims
that ECFR is designed to become an approved religious
authority for local governments and private establishments.
(Comment: ECFR is little more than a paper tiger. Though it
aspires to play a larger role regarding Islam in Europe, it
has no enforcement ability for its fatwas and does little to
implement the decrees it issues. End comment).

5. (C) Al Qaradawi also claims in the ECFR Fatwa book that
prior to such proper Islamic organizations as ECFR, European
Muslims were misguided and acted disgracefully, "similarly to
the Jews."

ICCI-The Largest Islamic Center in Ireland

6. (C) ICCI, which is collocated with the ECFR, is the
largest mosque in Ireland and its building was financed by
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the Maktoum
Foundation of the UAE. In spite of the impressive size of
the mosque, it is not the most significant Maktoum family
operation in Ireland. The family also operates a huge and
successful horse racing, breeding, and training operation in
Ireland, based in Kildare's Kildangen Stud Farm. Mosque
leaders tell us that, although Maktoum funding flows
steadily, the family pays little to no attention to the
operations of the mosque or the ECFR. According to a mosque
spokesman, approximately 1,000 Muslims from numerous Islamic
countries regularly attend Friday services and around
3,000-4,000 Muslims attend special events at the center. The
ECFR Secretary General and Imam of the center is Egyptian
Shaykh Hussein Muhammad Halawa. When journalists want an
"Islamic point of view," or the GOI wants to include a Muslim
in a public event, such as the recent presidential
inauguration, they tend to go to ICCI first. In March 2005,
ICCI sought greater recognition for Islam here by hosting an
"Islam in Ireland" conference and invited GOI officials to
witness Irish Muslim efforts to integrate. However, the
conference devolved into a session on how the GOI and Irish
public can best accommodate the needs of the Irish Muslims in
terms of healthcare and funeral services, providing prayers
rooms in public schools, and making dietary allowances for
Muslims students during Ramadan. Nur al-Hoda school is also
located at ICCI, and is one of two Muslim schools accredited
by the GOI and eligible to receive government funding.
Though not affiliated with the mosque, Nur al-Hoda is
associated with the mosque by virtue of its locale.

B. Which Muslim clerics and intellectuals have the most
influence among Muslims in Europe? Do any of them have broad
influence extending across ethnic and linguistic groups among
Europe's Muslim populations? Do any of the European-based
thinkers have significant influence elsewhere in the Muslim

Muslim visitors to Ireland

7. (C) One indication of who influences Irish Muslims is who
comes here. Visitors in recent months are listed below.

--In December, ICCI hosted a series of talks on integration
by moderate Egyptian cleric and Islamic televangelist Amr
Khaled, who recently rose to fame in Europe for countering
the ideas of Al-Qaradawi in dealing with the West. In
addition, since early 2005 ICCI has hosted several programs
on various topics such as women's issues in Islam,
multiculturalism, Arabic language instruction, Palestinian
solidarity, and Muslim-Christian-Jewish dialogue. Of note
was the March 2-5, 2006 visit of Egyptian Shaykh Wajdi
Ghunaim who delivered lectures on "the behavior of Muslim
youth in a foreign land" and "sickness of living in a foreign
land." Also, on January 29, 2006 ICCI hosted American Shaykh
Yusuf Estes, a Muslim convert and former Christian preacher,
who spoke on "building bridges between Muslims, Christians
and Jews."

--On March 2, Anjem Choudhry, radical British leader of
Al-Muhajiroun, and Ali Saleem, an Egyptian/Irish national and
ICCI employee, participated in a public debate on Islam,

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where Choudhry promoted the Muslim right to self-defense for
all Western infractions against Islam since the fall of the
Ottoman Empire. He argued, with Saleem's tacit complicity,
that victims of 9/11, Madrid, and 7/7 are collateral damage
and justifiable losses in an ongoing struggle to regain a
global Islamic state. This was Choudhry's second visit to
Ireland since November, when he appeared at a Trinity College
Philosophical Society debate on terrorism. According to
press reports then, he claimed in the debate that Ireland was
a "legitimate target" for terrorism for its allowing U.S.
military planes to refuel at Shannon Airport.

--On April 19, the Irish Institute of European Affairs hosted
a seminar on "Islam, Integration and Europe" which included a
speech by Professor Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Hassan
Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ramadan, a
Swiss national, claimed before a small, mostly Irish
audience, that Islam is now a European Religion and that
Muslims and Europeans share responsibilities in overcoming
current conflicting thoughts. He charged that Muslims should
integrate, learn to identify themselves as Europeans and
become dutiful citizens. Likewise, he called for European
governments to stop Islamicizing the problems of immigration
and start focusing on shared values.

--On May 25, the Irish Equality Authority, National
University of Ireland-Maynooth and the Royal Irish Academy
hosted a "Meeting the Challenge of Islamophobia" conference.
British/Indian celebrities Javed Aktar and Shabana Azmi told
the audience of around 150 Irish academics and professionals
that secularism in India has secured the freedom of religion
for millions of Indian Muslims. They also said that the
West's view of Islam is formed by the actions and words of a
small minority of extremists and pointed to the fact that
most of the world's Muslims are not Arabs. They told the
audience of how Islam has proved its compatibility with
democracy in Indonesia, Malaysia and India and emphasized
that the terrorism is given root when groups are isolated
from pluralistic society, such as in Saudi Arabia and
Afghanistan. Taking this notion further, however, Aktar
accused the United States of Nazi-like crackdowns on the
press and the limitation of free speech, actions which, he
charged, also give birth to extremism.

C. Washington analysts are interested, in particular, in
groups and individuals who promote a clearly pluralist,
tolerant form of political Islam in Europe, as well as the
activities of groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.


8. (C) Only in recent years has Ireland witnessed a
significant growth in the numbers of Muslim immigrants. For
that reason, discussions on pluralism are just beginning to
take place. The GOI has established programs such as the
hiring of non-Irish police officers and creating the National
Consultative Committee for Racism and Integration to help
assimilate immigrants. From within the Muslim community,
however, only a few voices calling for integration can be
heard. The loudest of these voices are Shaheed Satardien,
Allama Zille Umar Qadri and Mian Ghulam Bari and his son
Mazhar Bari. Both Satardien and Qadri have told emboffs that
getting out a positive message on integration is difficult
because the conservative Muslims, or as Satardien refers to
the leaders at ICCI, the Wahhabis and Muslim Brotherhood,
control Islam in Ireland. He alleges that ICCI has the ear
of the GOI and blocks efforts to initiate open dialogue
within the religious community.

9. (C) Saudi-trained Sheikh Dr. Shaheed Satardien is one of
the most quoted Muslim voices for pluralism in Ireland.
Satardien, a South African refugee and Imam with no mosque,
has a talent for seizing the microphone and is often quoted
in the media. He promotes a very positive image of Islam,
co-organizing, for example, a February 10 peace rally
thanking the Irish, British and U.S. press for not publishing
the Mohammed cartoons. He also organized an interfaith peace
conference on June 10, with Post's DCM providing the keynote
speeh. Satardien does not have an organized following and
thus cannot at this time be thought of as a leader of
moderate Muslims. Irish government sources describe him as a

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man who likes the sound of his own voice. He does, however,
have the ambition to become a leader and, as noted, a talent
for attracting media attention. For these reasons, the
embassy works with him.

10. (C) Another prominent figure in terms of moderate Islam
is Mazhar Bari. Bari, a college professor and local
politician for the Progressive Democrats, networks
effectively in both Sunni and Shi'a circles as well as with
government officials. Bari is the integrationist voice most
recognized by the GOI. He and his father, Mian Ghulam Bari
are leaders of the Pakistani community here in Ireland. The
Baris, who are wealthy and well-established in Ireland, are
pious but espouse mainstream Islam and encourage assimilation
of Muslims in Ireland. The Black Pitts mosque, which they
sponsor, is suspected of being a gathering place for some
radical elements within the Pakistani community in Ireland,

11. (C) Another influential voice for integration is
Dutch-raised Pakistani Sheikh Allama Zille Umar Qadri, who
runs the 120-member Clonee Mosque attended primarily by
Pakistanis. He was the other organizer of the February peace
rally and teaches English and integration to new immigrants.
Qadri's group adheres to the religious doctrine of
Minhaj-ul-Quran, a Pakistani organization that preaches
Brelvi Islam which is a contextual vice literal
interpretation of the Quran. In July 2005, in a seminar that
included Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Baha'is, he
publicly called for increased Muslim cooperation to counter
the threat of Islamic extremism, saying "those people who say
we do not need to condemn terror do not know their religion."

12. (C) One of the most pro-democracy and pro-USG policy
Islamic voices in Ireland is that of the Shi'a Mosque leader,
Irish/Iraqi/Saudi Arabian national Dr. Ali Al Saleh and his
approximately 250-member predominantly Iraqi congregation in
the Dublin neighborhood known as "Milltown". Al Saleh and
the Irish Shi'as attempt to provide the Irish public with a
balanced view of USG efforts in Iraq, but unfortunately, lack
the media savvy to effectively communicate the balanced
picture of activities in Iraq and are overshadowed in the
Islamic community by the majority Sunnis, who have historical
and political connections to the GOI. With assistance from
Post, however, Dr. Al Saleh's message is gradually being
heard by an Irish audience, such as in a positive Op-Ed
ghost-written for him in the Irish Times, the Irish newspaper
of record, on the third anniversary of the U.S. led invasion
of Iraq.

Muslim Brotherhood in Ireland

13. (S) In discussions with emboffs, the above-named
pluralistic individuals and others have accused Halawa and
other leaders at ICCI, and a smaller, more radical mosque,
South Circular Road (SCR) Mosque and notably its Imam,
Sudanese Yahya Al Hussein, of membership in the Muslim
Brotherhood. Despite the historical and political
connections that ICCI has with the GOI, other prominent
Muslims deem that its teaching is influenced by Wahhabism
with a close link to the ultraconservative Deobandi school of
Islam (espoused by the Taliban). One journalist in town
reported that other than in Qatar, the MB has its strongest
base in Ireland, and charged that Al Qaradawi "runs Islam in
Ireland." SCR, aka the "Old Mosque" and referred to by local
Muslims as the "Tora Bora" Mosque because of the high
concentration of Afghan and Bosnian Jihadists who frequent
it, has weaker ties to MB. It is viewed as an extremist
mosque by SIMO colleagues, but characterized by the GOI as
one of the two official Mosques in Ireland (along with ICCI).

14. (S) Some diplomatic community Muslims are instructed by
their missions not to attend services at ICCI and other
moderates have left the mosque's community due to alleged
radical influences at the center. For example, despite
Halawa's public call after the 7/7 London attacks to arrest
extremists, ICCI employed as a religious teacher Abderrahmane
Katrani, an Afghanistan veteran and Moroccan national wanted
by the GOM for the 2003 Casablanca bombings. Also, terrorism
financier and U.S. Executive Order 13224 designee Ibrahim
Buisir is known to frequent the center.

DUBLIN 00000798 005.2 OF 006

15. (C) In public and with emboffs, Halawa, Saleem and other
suspected MB members present a respectable face of Islam, and
assert their desire for an end to all violence. In recent
months, Saleem has taken on a public relations role of
promoting Islam to the Irish, in the form of debates,
providing tours of ICCI, and meeting with guests of the
center. Though he espouses some of the rhetoric of Choudhry,
as mentioned above, he appears mainly to support the revival
of the pre-Ottoman "golden years" of the Islamic empire. In
the July 2005 edition of its newsletter Spectrum, the
National Consultative Committee for Racism and Integration
published two of Saleem's articles on the "Muslim Community
in Ireland" and the "Integration of Muslims in Ireland," both
presenting positive images of Muslim integration into Irish
society. Though he does not reach out to the embassy
proactively, he is accessible to emboffs and is key to
engaging with the ICCI leadership. He speaks excellent

D. What is known about the personalities and leadership
styles of key Muslim clerics and intellectuals? What
motivates them to take on a leadership role in the Muslim
community? What are their interpersonal and organizational
skills and deficits? How would one evaluate their capacity
for strategic thought and action? What are their key
personal and professional relationships?

Muslim Brotherhood Leaders

16. (C) As implied before, the individuals associated with
ICCI and other conservative Sunni Mosques, Halawa, Saleem,
Hussein, and others, appear to maintain their key
professional international relationships through the ECFR, or
Muslim Brotherhood contacts. Halawa, in particular, as head
of the largest Mosque in Ireland is in a unique position as
the main official Muslim contact of the GOI. However, his
deficit in this role is his lack of English speaking ability.
Satardien, Qadri and others charge that Halawa owes his
position as Imam to ICCI's benefactors in Dubai, and serves
at the pleasure of Al-Qaradawi. It is doubtful that he,
Saleem, or others suspected of MB involvement operate
independently of some informal conservative Islamic or MB
hierarchy. When queried in a May 23 interview by emboffs
about the European role of MB, Halawa and Saleem failed to
clarify their position regarding the organization, but
distanced themselves and other Muslims from any groups that
espoused violence to achieve ends. They also acknowledged
that individual European MB members may be combining religion
and politics, to the detriment of MB, but again, failed to
provide details. When pressed on Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, they
demonstrated loyalty to him by claiming that he is a model of
moderate Islam and said that disparaging remarks about him
were taken out of context.

Al-Saleh-Iraqi Shi'a community

17. (C) Al-Saleh is a very intelligent and eloquent (in
spoken English) leader of the Shi'a community in Ireland. He
appears motivated to lead his community by a genuine desire
to promote democracy in the Muslim world. At October's
Iftar, he told emboffs and his Shi'a audience that prior to
the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, he did not think that Islam
and democracy were compatible. Now he believes "you can't
have Islam without democracy." He is an effective
communicator and capable of high levels of strategic thought
and action. He is willing to take a public platform to
promote democracy in the Middle East and speak of the
importance of Islamic coexistence the West. His deficits are
that he represents only a small minority here in Ireland and
has little experience dealing with the media or the GOI.


18. (C) In a conversation with an emboff, Satardien explained
that though normally attired in Western garb, for the
February 10 Peace Rally, he wore a turban and robes. He said
that though he has no mosque, his credentials as an Imam, and
more importantly, his attire as a cleric enabled him to have

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military-like control (as witnessed by emboff) over the
approximately 300 Muslim men protesting the publication of
the Mohammed cartoons. Effectively, he steered the crowd
from chanting slogans about the cartoon to the focus of the
gathering: thanking the Irish, British and American press for
not publishing the offending images. Satardien is fluent in
English, appears to have high credentials as an Imam, and is
well connected to media outlets willing to broadcast his
message of pluralism. He also is very active: On June 10 he
organized and hosted his second annual peace conference and
is publishing a book in English; hosting a radio show;
chairing "Interfaith Roundtable," a group that he founded;
and participating in an October debate called, "Jesus or
Mohammed: Who is the true exponent of peace?" His deficits
are that by associating with all religious groups, to include
Christians, Wiccans, Moonies, Quakers, Baha'is, etc., in his
own view, he is deemed as fringe by many Muslim groups as
well as Christian groups in Ireland. According to him, his
motivation for assuming a leadership role in Ireland is to
replace what he deems a very radical group (the MB leaders at
ICCI and SCR) with his moderate, pluralistic message.

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