By John McCarthy
A mosque in Limerick received verses from the Quran wrapped in slices of bacon in the post.
One imam said he fears further reprisals against the Muslim community, following acts of vandalism at other mosques in Limerick and in Galway.
The mosque in question also received several “very offensive items” sent in the post, including images of the Prophet Mohammad, with a bomb in his turban.
Following the attack on a mosque in Galway this week, Imam Khaled Ghafour (pictured), of the mosque in Dooradoyle, Limerick, said they had been broken into and vandalised on three occasions in recent times, which he had not highlighted previously.
On one occasion, the perpetrators urinated on the carpet, which he said was the “worst incident” they have suffered. Windows have been broken on several occasions and items in the mosque have been smashed. They have since installed CCTV cameras and reported a series of incidents to gardaí, but no arrests were made.
Imam Ghafour said prayers were immediately offered in the mosque following the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London in recent weeks, in which 30 people were killed.
“For people to commit these atrocities, especially in the month of Ramadan, which is meant to be a month of mercy, these people have no understanding of Islam at all. People shouldn’t fear Muslims," he said.
"I always give people the example of the IRA attacks in the UK, when Irish people were looked in the same light [as terrorists. I would have thought Irish people would be more understanding. Not all Muslims are terrorists, and neither were all Irish people.”
Imam Ghafour said “fears are always there” of a backlash against the Muslim community, but it does not take a terrorist attack in the name of Islam for Muslims to be targeted.
“The people who committed these attacks are not martyrs; it’s not a noble cause that they have somehow construed in their minds. They are dying for nothing. What has happened has tarnished all Muslims.
“We are living in a terrible time. As a Muslim, this saddens us all,” said the Glaswegian native, who moved to Limerick 12 years ago.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner