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Irish Islamic community criticises targeted misinformation campaign

The Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council offered the use of a major Dublin Islamic centre for use as a vaccination hub.

File Image: Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri
File Image: Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri
Image: Mark Stedman/RN

THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY in Ireland has criticised an online misinformation campaign aimed at persuading Muslims and other minority groups not to take up the Covid-19 vaccines.

A leading Irish Muslim scholar, Shaykh Dr Umar al-Qadri, says that the Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out nationwide are Halal and fully comply with Islamic religious requirements.

Dr al-Qadri has even offered the use of a major Dublin Islamic centre for use as a vaccination hub.

“We will make our Islamic centre available to the HSE for use as a vaccination centre,” he said.

“Islam supports science and the protection of health.”

He stressed that the “fake news” campaign being undertaken online was particularly worrying because of how vulnerable some minority groups are to the effects of the virus.

The majority of misinformation has been surrounding the vaccines, Dr Al-Qadri said, with social media posts falsely claiming that the vaccines are not compliant with Islamic dietary regulations or lifestyles. 

“From an Islamic perspective, it is perfectly fine to get these vaccines, in fact, it is highly recommended because in Islam there is a rule that you have to not only protect yourself from harm but also protect your neighbourhood and people around you from any harm,” Al-Qadri said. 

He added that Friday sermons in the mosques and Islamic centres around the country have been dedicated to highlighting the importance of social distancing, getting the vaccine, and tackling misinformation. 

People from the Middle East, Africa and South-East Asia have proven particularly prone to Covid-19 – with a disproportionate number of healthcare worker deaths in Ireland and the UK coming from such minority groups.

Dr Syed Waqar Ali Shah, who was working at the Mater Hospital, died last summer after falling ill from Covid-19 and spending three months in intensive care. Tributes to him were paid by Irish doctors and politicians.

“He gave his life to serve others in the face of this dreadful virus – with the advent of various vaccines for Covid-19, we can all now be life-savers,” Dr Al-Qadri said.

Right wing groups are believed to be linked to an online campaign across Europe to persuade Muslims, Hindus and other groups not to accept vaccines for religious reasons.

In the UK, concern over such misinformation prompted one major Islamic leader, Shaykh Nuru Mohammed, to insist the vaccines were permissible under Islam and Halal.

Dr Al-Qadri said the message from the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC) was very clear about the vaccines and their importance in the battle against Covid-19.

“IMPC is calling on Irish Muslims to lend their full support to the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Ireland,” he said.

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“Along with the rest of society, our religious scene has been changed beyond recognition. Mosques have been forced to close and as a community we have missed prayers, pilgrimages and festivals together.

However, the stubborn trend of vaccine scepticism threatens to undermine the progress that has been made. History and science tells us that vaccines work. The major vaccines being considered for use in Ireland are also free of animal cells and are religiously permissible for Muslims to use.

“Our Irish Muslim medics have served with their colleagues of all faiths and none on the frontline of this pandemic since March.”

– With reporting from Adam Daly

About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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