Women ordered to stop praying in park ‘in case they hurt their backs’

Two Muslim women were stopped from praying in a Dublin city park because they might injure their backs and sue the council.

One of the women, whose first name is Sajida, said they felt threatened and humiliated when the driver of a security van drew up and shouted that there was “no praying in the park” as they knelt in Griffith Park, Drumcondra, for one of the five daily calls to prayer that Muslims must observe.

Sajida, who moved to Ireland from Britain 17 years ago, said the women had “never experienced anything like it before”.

Sajida said she and her friend had picked a quiet spot but had barely begun praying when she heard a loud honking.

A Manguard Plus van — Manguard is contracted by Dublin City Council to provide an out-of-hours park warden service — drew up a few metres away and, Sajida claims, the driver shouted at them there was no praying in the park.

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Sajida claims the man told them they needed a permit to pray.

“I asked him where did it say that, to show me the policy,” said Sajida. “He then said we could break our backs when we stood up and sue Dublin City Council. I told him five million people gather to pray in Mecca and we never heard of people breaking their backs.”

The women say they are now seeking legal advice.

Manguard told the Irish Examiner the women were asked to move because a gardener wanted to cut the grass. He said the women were “asked politely to move”, that Manguard was “not there to enforce any religious rules”, and that their employees “didn’t get into confrontation”.

However, when the Irish Examiner contacted Dublin City Council, a spokesman said the grass in Griffith Park “was not cut on the day in question”, Saturday, Aug 10. The spokesman also said nobody has approached them in relation to any incident in the park.

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