A Dublin-based Muslim cleric has said that he is concerned that Muslim children may be taught incorrect teachings of Islam and may develop a distorted version of Islam at weekend Islamic education classes held throughout Ireland.
Shaykh Umar al-Qadri, who is head Imam at Blanchardstown mosque, told RTÉ’s News At One that teachers attending the weekend classes are often unqualified in Islamic studies, they have no training and there is no regulation or transparency of the syllabus.
He said if children are being taught incorrect versions of Islam, it may leave them vulnerable to radicalisation.
"Some youngsters or teenagers that have travelled from Ireland to join ISIS, or to join other militant organisations, they were being brought up in Ireland,” he said.
“They used to attend Koran schools and weekend Islamic schools in Ireland. So how was it possible that these children were able to be radicalised?”
Shaykh Umar said he believes the Irish Muslim community has an opportunity to ensure that Muslim children in Ireland do not become alienated, or experience an identity crisis which, he said, often leads to radicalisation.
“I have spoken to certain parents and they have raised concern about other schools where children are being taught, for example, beliefs that are incompatible with real Islamic teachings...I’ve been told that certain children are being taught hatred of other communities."
He said the Department of Education, or other Government agencies could facilitate a role to ensure that Muslim communities come together and agree on a syllabus.
Shaykh Umar said Ireland has a unique opportunity to ensure that young Irish Muslims do not become alienated or experience identity crises as has happened in the UK, which he said leaves them open to radicalisation.
Muslim communities should come together to work out agreed standards, he added, and the Department of Education or another government agency could play a role in facilitating the process.