A leading Imam said worshippers, including children, could have been seriously injured in a rock attack on his mosque in Galway, in which one of its windows were smashed.
Imam Ibrahim Noonan believes the fact his windows were double-glazed prevented the rocks from breaking through the glass and hitting people as they prayed.
He described the attack, which occurred late on Monday night, as a “hate crime” and believed it was in direct response to the London terror attacks.
Imam Noonan said because it is Ramadan — a holy month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Qu’ran being revealed to the Prophet Muhammad — they were praying late in the Ahmadiyya Mosque when there was a “loud bang” at 11.10pm.
“It may sound silly but because we were praying most people did not break prayer,” he said. “I thought at the time some fuse had blown”.
But some members did break prayer and, when he investigated, he saw the smashed window.
“They smashed a big window and they tried to hit others with rocks. These are double-glazed, so, given the power you would need to smash it, they threw it with absolute anger and hate.”
He said there were 100 people in the prayer room at the time. “If it wasn’t double glazed that rock would have hit someone. There were children there at the time, young boys and girls.”
He said that when they ran outside he saw at least two young men, aged in their 20s, running away.
“We’ve had incidents in the past, from boys yelling, being abusive and throwing stones, but not this,” he said.
He praised the response of gardaí: “We’ve had incidents in the past, but I’ve never seen such a rapid response, it was the quickest, units came running. Obviously, they were on standby.
“We are very happy with how they responded and how supportive they were.”
He said only that day he was reassuring people who were concerned at the events in London and the involvement of a Muslim who had lived in Ireland.
“People are quite anxious and I am saying not to worry, but I am concerned. I hate to say this but I think we are going to see more of it if the attacks continue in Britain.”
He said there was CCTV footage of the youths running away. The Garda Press Office said: “Gardaí are investigating a criminal damage incident at a premises in Ballybrit, Co Galway, on June 5, 2017, at approximately 11pm. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.”
Imam Noonan has been one of the most outspoken of Islamic leaders in relation to both condemning attacks and pressurising other Irish Imams to be more active.
“Law enforcement should look at imams, their views and background, are they linked to extremists,” he said. “If so, they have to send them back home.”
He said he knew that radicalisation was going on in Ireland. He said that 15 months ago he informed local gardaí about a particular group who were active in Galway. He also said he tried to help an Irish Muslim who was listening to them.
Fazel Ryklief, a senior member of the Islamic Foundation of Ireland in Dublin, said he was concerned by the Galway attack.
The IFI has increased its own security measures — including having a security guard — following a terror attack in Canada last March, in which six worshippers were shot dead by a right-wing extremist.
“I still feel apprehensive and we had a couple of abusive calls after Manchester, but we haven’t had an attack like Galway, so that is a bit of concern.”
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