A CONTROVERSIAL religious leader with close links to Ireland’s largest Muslim organisation has been banned from entering the country, the Irish Independent has learned. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service refused to approve an entry visa for Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric who has defended suicide bombing and advocated the death penalty for homosexuals. Sheikh al-Qaradawi (84) is head of the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR), a private Islamic foundation whose headquarters is in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI) in Clonskeagh, Dublin. Immigration officials are understood to have blocked his entry to the country after Mr Al-Qaradawi described suicide-bombing attacks on Israelis as “martyrdom in the name of God”. The Irish Independent has learnt the elderly religious leader was denied a visa when he last tried to enter the country on ECFR business. The Irish ban follows similar ones in the US and UK. Mr Al-Qaradawi had his US visa revoked in 1999 and was also refused entry to the UK three years ago. He now spends most of his time in Qatar, where he is a regular guest on satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera……The Irish Independent has learnt that immigration officials have been concerned about him for some time and have blocked his entry to Ireland for the past three years. A visa application made by Mr Al-Qaradawi in June 2008 was refused. Since then he has been “red flagged”. This means he would be arrested and immediately deported if he turned up at an Irish port of entry. The decision is believed to have been made after consultation with other governments who imposed similar bans. No official reason was given for the red flagging and it is unclear if other religious figures have been the subject of similar bans. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said it could not comment on specific cases.
The report also notes that the Islamic Cultural Center of Ireland (ICCI), the center of the Global Muslim Brotherhood in Ireland, refused to criticize Qaradawi:
Despite Mr Al-Qaradawi’s controversial remarks, the ICCI, the largest Muslim organisation in the country, has refused to criticise him. Its chief executive, Dr Nooh al-Kaddo, confirmed to the Irish Independent that Mr Al-Qaradawi’s foundation had its headquarters at the ICCI. He described the sheikh as “widely respected” and a “learned scholar”. “His views are representative of Islamic teachings and are not assumed to be a violation of same,” said Dr al-Kaddo. The ICCI’s defence of Mr Al-Qaradawi is likely to give rise to criticism in some quarters of the Irish Muslim community who have previously accused the body’s leadership of not being tough on extremism. However, Dr Al-Kaddo said he rejected such criticism. “The ICCI is aware that on occasion there are claims it does not take a sufficiently strong stance against global extremism,” he said. “The ICCI has, on all occasions of extreme violence carried out against innocents, condemned it, especially when the perpetrators claim it to be in the name of Islam.”
The ICCI is an important part of the European Muslim Brotherhood serving as host for the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), the theological body headed by Youssef Qaradawi. The ICCI is also the registered headquarters for Qaradawi’s International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). Noah Al-Kaddo, the ICCI Executive Director, is also an officer of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the European umbrella organization for the Muslim Brotherhood and the parent organization of the ECFR.
Qaradawi, a virulent anti-Semite is often referred to here as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to leadthe Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide. Based in Qatar, Sheikh Qaradawi has reportedly amassed substantial wealth through his role as Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds. He is also considered to be the “spiritual guide” for Hamas and his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were instrumental in the development of the phenomenon. A recent post has discussed a video compilation of Qaradawi’s extremist statements.