Irish Muslims Counter Islamophobia with Peace

NEWBUILDINGS – An Irish Islamic association has offered the hand of friendship to trolls who made abusive comments about a group of Muslims praying in the street in Northern Ireland, Belfast Telegraph reported on October 3.

The North West Islamic Association expressed gratitude “to everyone who defended the rights of Muslims to practice our religion freely without being threatened or abused.”

It’s believed the six Irish Muslim men were traveling through the North West when their time for prayer arrived.

They stopped their car beside a garage and car wash in the village of Newbuildings and kneeled on the ground to pray, before getting in their vehicle and driving away.

A stranger took a photograph of the scene and shared it on Facebook alongside a torrent of Islamophobic comments.

The Islamic association said it was aware of the comments online, and said it indicated how some people “have very little knowledge about Muslims and Islam.”

An official statement from the association explained that: “Muslims pray to God five times a day at specific times with recitation of verses, bowing and prostration,” it said.

“These prayers are not only a way of submitting to God but also a way to give thanks. When done properly, these regular prayers should keep Muslims in a state of piety and peace as when people pray in Church or elsewhere,” the statement continued.

“These five prayers should be performed at specific times and Muslims are encouraged to pray at the mosque, at home or at any suitable clean place as long as they don’t block a road, cause disruption or cause difficulties to the neighborhood,” it further clarified.

Despite Islamophobic reactions, the organization concluded that “the North West Islamic Association, as an organization, would like to offer individuals or groups the chance to connect with the Muslim community in the city by inviting them for a cup of tea at their convenience.”

According to the estimates between 2011 and 2016, Muslims represented about 1.5% of the total population of Ireland. There were over 63,443 Muslims living in the island nation representing a 29% increase over the figures for the 2011 census.

However, the Muslim community is very much a minority, especially when compared to the numbers of Christians and atheists.

The Muslim community in Ireland is diverse and growing rapidly. Just over 55% of Muslims were either Asian or African nationals with 30.7% having Irish nationality.