Gardaí have met with Muslim leaders in Limerick as fears spread through the local migrant community following a number of suspected racially motivated attacks in the city.
Officers are investigating two such alleged attacks occurring over a 48-hour period, it has emerged.
Two Muslim men were beaten and kicked near the Al Furqan mosque on Windmill Street, around 8pm, Sunday, May 5, after the pair had attended prayers there as part of Ramadan.
Gardaí have confirmed they are also investigating a second suspected racially motivated assault on a Bangladesh man, on May 7th in the Steamboat Quay area.
According to sources in the migrant community, the incident was filmed on a mobile phone.
The injured party was sitting in his car when he was approached by a man, believed to be Irish, who allegedly started to verbally abuse him.
The injured party is believed to have been punched a number of times during the alleged incident.
Senior gardaí met with local Imams on Tuesday to hear their concerns.
Speaking today, Superintendent Derek Smart, Henry Street garda station, said he was treating the matter extremely seriously.
“We’ve had a meeting with the local Imams. It is causing concerns in the migrant community,” Supt Smart said.
Investigations into the two alleged attacks are “ongoing”.
“I would appeal for anyone with information or who witnessed any of these alleged attacks to contact us.”
Superintendent Smart said he was not aware of video footage of the alleged attack on May 7.
“If people have any (video) footage we’d be happy to take it,” he added.
Fianna Fáil local election candidate Abdul Kalam Azad Talukder, who is hoping to become Limerick’s first Muslim councillor, said migrants there are fearful of further attacks: “The whole community is very scared and worried. Everybody is very worried, the whole community.”
“Most people don't know what to do; They are scared to go to (the mosque) to pray, or, scared to go out for a walk.”
Mr Talukder said he understands video footage of the May 7 assault was captured on a mobile phone by a witness who may have been associated with the alleged assailant.
“A few days ago somebody in a local supermarket pulled the hijab from a Muslim woman’s head,” he added.
He said minor racist incidents often go unreported out of fear “more problems will come.”
“They are afraid to report.”
Mr Talukder said migrants wearing traditional dress are sometimes compared to “Al Qeada” “Taliban” “Osama bin Laden” or told to “go back to your country”.
However, the Bangladesh businessman, who has lived in Limerick for the past 19 years, said he believes the majority of Irish people are not racist.
He praised the actions of two Irish men who came to the aid of the victims in the alleged attack on May 5.
“I know it's a minority of people trying to spread hatred. A small minority do not represent Ireland. My children were born here and I strongly believe in an Ireland for everybody,” Mr Talukder said.