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Minister says he's 'greatly disturbed' after vandals cause damage at Galway mosque

A spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association said people were shocked to hear of the vandalism this morning.

The mosque near Galway city was vandalised overnight
The mosque near Galway city was vandalised overnight
Image: Google Maps

Updated Jul 29th 2019, 3:37 PM

GARDAÍ HAVE BEGUN an investigation, after people arriving for morning prayers at a mosque in Galway found “a considerable amount of criminal damage” caused in the premises. 

Windows and locks were broken, and furniture was damaged in the attack overnight at the Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque to the east of Galway city, with the building being accessed by those responsible.

The incident took place sometime after evening prayers which finished at around 10pm last night, and the morning. A number of stones were found in the main prayer space of the building after the vandals used them to break the windows.

Spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Ireland Dr Nauman Iftikhar told TheJournal.ie that people were shocked following the vandalism.

“We’re a peaceful community,” he said. “We’ve a very strong relationship with the people of Galway. And we never have any problems with our neighbours.”

A similar act of vandalism saw windows smashed during evening prayers in July 2017.

Dr Iftikhar said: “People were terrified. But the good thing that came out last time was that the people of Galway came in to stand with us.

This is no place for hate, and people understand that and stood with us. We felt privileged.

No one was injured in the incident, and the mosque has handed over CCTV to the gardaí to assist in their inquiries.

“This is a place of worship, of peace,” Dr Iftikhar added. “It’s such a shame for something like this to happen here, where there’s such lovely, generous people.”

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a garda spokesperson said: “Gardaí are investigating a burglary that occurred in Ballybaan, Co Galway on the 29 July 2019.

“A considerable amount of criminal damage was caused to the premises. No arrests have been made and investigations are ongoing.”

In a tweet this afternoon, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he was “greatly disturbed” by the attack.

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“A Garda investigation is underway and I urge anyone with information to come forward,” he said. “I want to reassure worshippers that their freedom of religion will be protected.”

Also reacting today was Bishop of Galway Brendan Kelly. He said: “Together with so many of my fellow Galwegians, I am dismayed and shocked at the wilful and malicious assault made last night on the Maryam Mosque in our city.  I wholeheartedly condemn the actions of the perpetrators. 

Later today I will visit my good friend Iman Ibrahim Noonanto to assure him of my personal support and prayers and to convey to him the very deep sense of outrage felt across our community.  An attack on a place of worship is an assault on God and an assault on all people of faith. We stand in solidarity with our Muslim neighbours.  With them, we reject violence, we reject division and we reject hate. 

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Sean Murray

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