Children of Irish Imam arrested during Ramses Square mosque siege

Four children of Sheikh Hussein Halawa, the imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Dublin, Ireland’s largest mosque, were arrested on Saturday, 17 August 2013, following the overnight siege of the Al-Fath Mosque near Ramses Square in central Cairo. Three of the imam’s daughters and his teenage son took part in the march leading to Ramses Square on Friday, 16 August 2013, after participating at the pro-Mursi sit-in near the Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Mosque.

They are held in military detention at the Tora prison in Cairo and are due to appear at court on Monday, 19 August 2013. As all four hold Irish citizenship, the Irish government has been asked to intervene with the Egyptian authorities in their behalf. Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Joe Costello, could confirm that they were “in good health” and that a Turkish diplomat had visited them.

The four siblings are among a growing number of young Irish of Arab background have been caught up in the events and turmoil around the Arab Spring for the last two years, undertaking online campaigns, setting up charities or joining rebel forces to fight initially in Libya and later in Syria.

Sheikh Hussein Halawa has been living in Ireland for the last 18 years. He heads the largest mosque in Ireland and is also the secretary of the European Council for Fatwa and Research which is based at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland. Both the Islamic Cultural Centre and the European Council for Fatwa and Research are funded by the Maktoum Foundation, led by Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and Minister for Finance and Industry of the United Arab Emirates.

Qaradawi unable to attend annual meeting of ECFR in Dublin due to ill-health

23 June 2011

Yusuf Qaradawi (b. 1926), the prominent Egyptian-born Islamic scholar who is based in Qatar and considered to be the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, cancelled his participation at the annual meeting of the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR) to be held in Dublin next week due to ill-health. The secretariat of the ECFR is based in the premises of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, in Clonskeagh, South Dublin, the largest mosque in Ireland. Qaradawi visited Ireland several times in the past to attend the regular meetings of the ECFR, held in Dublin.

Seminar of the European Council of Moroccan Ulema held in Barcelona

Under the title “Islam and European values”, was held in Barcelona a seminar organized by the European Council of Moroccan Ulema and the Union of Islamic Cultural Centers of Catalonia. The seminar aimed to analyze and discuss ways to promote dialogue and communication between different cultures and religions within European societies, respecting their historical, cultural and spiritual baggage. The seminar covered topics such as religious freedom and secularism, Muslims and European values, Islam and public spaces, European Muslims and their contribution to European societies and the role of the authorities in promoting inter-religious understanding.

Close Call for MEPS: Europe Strongly Condemns Attacks

European officials strongly condemned the attacks in Mumbai. Three members of European Parliament were among those trapped in the Taj Mahal hotel. They escaped unscathed, but will return to Brussels with harrowing memories. On Thursday morning, officials from the European Union and its member states strongly condemned the terror attacks in Mumbai. “Terrorism is never justified and is no means to achieve any goal. We stand by the Indian government in its fight against terrorism,” the European Commission said. The European Council, currently headed by France, said that “it joins in the mourning of the Indian nation and stands beside it during this distressing trial.” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the attacked “outrageous”; German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was personally “distraught” by the news. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent her condolences to Indian prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday. “The German government sharply condemns these crimes,” she wrote. “I would like to express my deeply felt sympathy to you and the citizens of your country. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families in this difficult hour.”

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Belgian heads EU anti-terrorism office

BRUSSELS – High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy for the EU Javier Solana has appointed Belgian official Gilles de Kerchove d’Ousselghem as the new anti-terrorism coordinator for the EU. De Kerchove must coordinate the European Council’s efforts in the fight against terrorism and continue the implementation of European anti-terror strategy. “I am certain that Gilles de Kerchove will bring added value to the Council’s work in this important domain,” Solana said. The function of anti-terrorism coordinator was created after the attacks in Madrid in 2004. One of the coordinator’s tasks is to improve cooperation among the member states.