It is a dispiriting business trying to convince the Republic of Ireland's politicians or liberal elite that trouble lies ahead if they fail to avoid the mistakes made in Britain regarding Islamism. Due to my well-known track record as a virulent critic of Sinn Fein/IRA, I am typecast as unhelpful. In most debates in Ireland, I am Cassandra to my opponents' Pangloss. "Why do you always have to be so negative?" they say when I speak of dodgy mosques, hidden agendas, dangerous fundamentalists and worrying precedents with headgear. "There's no problem. Our Muslims aren't like those Muslims you have in England. Our Muslims are lovely."
Gaining ground: Muslim students in Ireland protest against "discrimination"
This blithe belief is based on a vague assumption that homicidal Muslims in the UK are all illiterate unassimilated Pakistanis who have been understandably radicalised by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The perception has been that all our nice educated diverse domestic Muslims would understand that the Irish people as a whole were fervently anti-war and therefore remain content and anxious to integrate.
Radical Islam is producing a variation on Ireland's long history of being an unwitting pawn in Continental wars. Over the centuries, French, Italians, Spaniards and Germans have been dispatched for wholly cynical reasons to aid uprisings against English rule. Now Islamic jihadists are using the Republic as a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the West. Dublin is a centre of Muslim Brotherhood activity, zealots are pushing the familiar policy of exceptionalism to encourage the separation between Muslim and kuffar (non-believing heretics) that is a vital stage in Islamification. There is plenty of Arab money to finance Sunnis and promote Wahhabism, and niqabs and burqas are beginning to appear in public places. Shias number only about 5,000, and whereas a decade ago they were stressing a common faith with Sunnis, since an influx of Iraqis in the past decade there is a sectarian divide emerging which is reminiscent of the Irish Catholic versus Protestant past.
Immigration, let alone Muslim immigration, is new to Ireland, which is vulnerable to those from exotic cultures who speak peace but mean jihad. The Republic's 1991 census showed 3,900 Muslims, mostly students and traders, but with a booming economy, Ireland of the early 1990s became an attractive destination for asylum seekers, refugees from Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia and economic immigrants. By 2006, of a population of just under 4.5 million, 32,500 were Muslims — an increase of 70 per cent on 2002. The educated guess is that between births, new immigrants, students and a tiny but steady trickle of converts, there are probably by now more than 40,000, coming from around 40 different nationalities, with the majority from Asia or Africa. Around a third have Irish nationality. Muslims are now the republic's third largest faith group.
There seemed little interest from official Ireland in 2005 in the revelation that Abbas Boutrab, an Algerian al-Qaeda operative of many aliases imprisoned in Belfast for planning to blow up planes over the US, had lived in Dublin for four years. And the establishment seemed unmoved in December 2006 by a TV documentary featuring Irish-based lay and clerical Muslims warning that radicals were indoctrinating Irish youth and begging the authorities to take the threat seriously. An opinion poll showing that 57 per cent of Muslims under 26 in Ireland wanted an Islamic state and that 19 per cent sympathised with Osama bin Laden demonstrated that there was now a decent-sized sea for terrorists to swim in. The programme featured a Dublin-based British-born Pakistani, Ismail Kotwal, who had studied at a Karachi madrassa, used an inner-city warehouse as a mosque where around 800 attended Friday prayers, had his own madrassa in inner-city Dublin and taught religion to Muslim students at a south Dublin boys' school run by the Roman Catholic De La Salle brothers. Two boys walked out of his class when he praised bin Laden as a good and God-fearing man. But when their fathers complained, the school muttered something and did nothing. Kotwal has told a journalist that since he did not know bin Laden personally, he could not condemn him. He explained he was promoting the establishment of an Islamic bank, "as Muslims cannot buy houses here and they are isolated. This is the kind of good integration I want."
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