Church leaders condemn 'loutish' attack on mosque in Galway

Church leaders have come together to condemn the attack last Monday on a Galway mosque.

Leaders from the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Methodist and Quaker faiths issued a statement this evening saying they condemn the malicious, unprovoked attack on the Masjid Maryam Mosque.

They say the attack, coming as it did during Ramadan, makes such "loutish, criminal behaviour particularly outrageous."

Worshippers said they were terrified after rocks smashed through the windows of the mosque during prayers.

Imam Ibrahim Ahmad Noonan responded to the stoning by saying he is committed to weeding out extremists.

He said there is an onus on imams to be more proactive in checking members of their congregations for radical leanings and called for all imams to be vetted by authorities, including checks for potential links to extremism.

Canon Michael McLoughlin, the Catholic Diocesan Administrator for Galway, Church of Ireland Archdeacon Gary Hastings, Rev Helen Freeburn, representing the Methodist and the Presbyterian churches and Richard Kimball, of the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland, offered the Iman their "full and wholehearted support".

They also extended it to the Ahmadiyyan Muslim Association of Ireland and to "our Muslims brothers and sisters here in Galway and throughout Ireland".

"In an increasingly secular world, we look forward to further strengthening our bonds of cooperation, friendship, respect, prayer and peace," they said.

Two males, believed to be in their late teens or early 20s, were seen running from the mosque following the stone throwing.

There is CCTV footage of the attack.

The Iman, who was born in Waterford, raised Catholic and converted to Islam 26 years ago, said he is considering asking some women and children to stay away from the mosque for a few days for safety reasons.

"Everyone was quite shaken, including myself, and quite upset that it happened while we were praying, especially the ladies and children," he said.

"It's a kind of realisation - we all linked this to what happened in London."

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