City planners in the Irish capital, Dublin, have given the go-ahead for the construction of a sprawling mega-mosque complex that will cater to Ireland's burgeoning Muslim population.
According to the Dublin City Council, which approved the project on March 7, the Clongriffin Mosque will consist of: (a) a three-story domed mosque and cultural center with towering minarets; (b) a two-story conference center including a reception foyer, conference room, restaurant, banquet hall, kitchens and ancillary accommodation; (c) a three-story 16-classroom primary school and a two-story 12-classroom secondary school; (d) a two-story fitness center with a gym, sauna, steam room and an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool; (e) a bookshop, library and mortuary; and (f) three four-story blocks of two-bedroom apartments with ground floor shops.
The Clongriffin Mosque will cater to some of the 30,000 Muslims living in Dublin, which is home to around 60% of the estimated 50,000 Muslims living in Ireland.
Although the number of Muslims in Ireland is relatively small (1.07% of the overall population), when compared to other European countries, the rate of growth of the Muslim population in Ireland has surged exponentially (1,170%) over the past 20 years, and Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the country. The total population of Ireland is 4.6 million.
According to Irish census data for 1991, the number of Muslims in the country was 3,875. After 1991, the Muslim population jumped, due to the arrival of Muslim refugees and asylum seekers from Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia. According to the Irish census data for 2002, the number of Muslims was 19,147; by 2006, that number had swelled to 32,539. In the 2011 census, the number of Muslims was 49,204.
Ireland's Muslim population is projected to almost triple over the next twenty years, according to the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center. A report entitled, The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030 forecasts that there will be 125,000 Muslims living in Ireland by 2030.
The Clongriffin Mosque is being promoted by a Dublin-based Muslim organization called the Dublin Welfare Society Limited, an opaque group that was incorporated in April 2010 and has no formal activities other than to lobby for the mosque project.
The mega-mosque will be developed by a local real estate mogul, Gerry Gannon, on extensive land he owns at Clongriffin. According to the Irish Times, the project is a "coup" for Gannon, who hopes to sell hundreds and possibly thousands of newly built homes to Muslim families using the cultural center.
Clongriffin is located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Dublin. Also known as the North Fringe, most of the land on which Clongriffin is being built was previously farmland. In July 2003, the Dublin City Council granted permission to begin developing a new suburb comprising houses and apartments, as well as schools, retail stores, supermarkets and a multi-screen cinema.
But construction in Clongriffin came to an abrupt halt after the Irish property bubble burst in 2009, and the country needed to be rescued in November 2010 with an €85 billion ($109 billion) bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Before Ireland's real estate crash, Gannon invested millions of euros on developing Clongriffin, including the construction of a railway station linking the suburb to downtown Dublin. With the approval of the mega-mosque project, Clongriffin suddenly has a new lease on life... and so does Gannon.
Planning documents show that the Dublin City Council has approved the construction of 3,678 new homes near where the mega-mosque will be built. Gannon hopes the Clongriffin Mosque will fuel demand for the homes he is eager to sell.
But critics worry that Clongriffin is in danger of becoming an exclusively Islamic suburb on the outskirts of Dublin where Muslims will establish a parallel society rather than integrate.
An Islamist website called "Islamic Vanguards: Spearheading Ireland's Transition" recently warned that Gannon's greed would be Ireland's undoing: "If there's one thing the west yearns, it is money. For it has worshiped this false god without fail for as long as they have departed from the worship of the true God. And it is this weakness, nay addiction that will see what they hold precious being wrenched from their spindly hands. Already as we speak vast swathes of the London metropolis are in Muslim hands, Dublin is set to follow as the wealth that Allah has blessed His servants with is used to reclaim the land for His glory."
In any event, the Clongriffin Mosque will not be the only mega-mosque in town: the new mosque on the northern edge of Dublin will compete with another mega-mosque, located in Clonskeagh on the southern edge of Dublin.
The mosque complex at Clonskeagh, which also goes by the name "Islamic Cultural Center," has been in operation since 1996. Its sprawling four-acre campus was financed by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the deputy ruler of Dubai.
The Clonskeagh Mosque is home to the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), an Islamist group which seeks to have Islamic Sharia law recognized throughout Europe.
The ECFR is an integral part of the Brussels-based Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), an umbrella group that unites more than 30 Muslim Brotherhood organizations in Europe, and acts as the main vehicle for propagating Muslim Brotherhood ideology in Europe.
The ECFR is chaired by the Egyptian-born, Qatari-based Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the influential Islamic scholar who is also a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Qaradawi -- a spiritual advisor for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas who has defended suicide attacks against Jews as "martyrdom in the name of Allah" -- has been banned from entering Great Britain and the United States.
Al-Qaradawi speaks openly about the goals of Islam: "What remains, then, is to conquer Rome. (...) This means that Islam will come back to Europe for the third time, after it was expelled from it twice. (...) Conquest through Dawa [proselytizing] that is what we hope for. We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through sword but through our Dawa."
According to a leaked US State Department memo dated July 7, 2006, the Muslim Brotherhood is stronger in Ireland than anywhere in the world outside of Qatar, and al-Qaradawi "runs Islam in Ireland."
The Muslim Brotherhood, which is heavily influenced by the extremist ideology of Wahhabism, subsidized by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, may be about to tighten its grip over Islam in Ireland even further.
Rumors abound that the new mega-mosque at Clongriffin will be financed by Qatar, which has been engaged in a multi-million euro spending spree to spread Wahhabi Islam around Europe.
Wahhabism -- which not only discourages Muslim integration in the West, but actively encourages jihad against non-Muslims -- threatens to radicalize Muslim immigrants in Ireland, according to the Irish Times.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who has long cultivated an image as a pro-Western reformist and modernizer, has vowed to "spare no effort" to spread the fundamentalist teachings of Wahhabi Islam across "the whole world."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.