The Bishop of Galway, Brendan Kelly, has said he was “dismayed and shocked” by a “wilful and malicious assault” on a mosque in the Irish city.

Driving the news

The Maryam Mosque in Galway was “badly and severely vandalised” early Monday morning, according to a statement released by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Ireland.

Locks were broken, windows smashed and security equipment stolen.

“I wholeheartedly condemn the actions of the perpetrators”, said Bishop Kelly.

Kelly added he would visit his “good friend” Iman Ibrahim Noonanto “to assure him of my personal support and prayers and to convey to him the very deep sense of outrage felt across our community”.

Noonanto said he had been warned three months ago of an impending attack.

“An attack on a place of worship is an assault on God and an assault on all people of faith”, lamented the Bishop of Galway.

“We stand in solidarity with our Muslim neighbours. With them, we reject violence, we reject division and we reject hate”, the prelate said.

This is the second time the mosque has been vandalised since it opened in 2014.

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For the record

Ahmadiyya Muslims are a distinct grouping within Islam that often experiences tension with Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The Ahmadiyya faith has over 200 million worshippers worldwide spread over 200 countries, mainly in Africa, Pakistan and Indonesia.

The community has an estimated 500 members in Ireland, including almost 200 in Galway city and county.

Dr MA Malik, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Ireland, blamed the attack on the Galway mosque on “a small faction of intolerant people who cannot be accepting of other groups”.

Malik said the Ahmadiyya message is “love for all, hatred for none”.

“We invite local communities to visit our place of worship, have food with us and spend time with us. We are a very well integrated community and it’s terrible after all our efforts that we are still victimised like this.

“We believe in peace and tolerance and have been working very hard to spread this message”, said Malik.

The big picture

Last month, at the conclusion of their three day Summer General Meeting in Maynooth, the Irish Bishops expressed their “concern” about “the rising number of incidents of racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance” in the country.

The Bishops said these incidents are “carried out sometimes by those who consider themselves faithful Christians – and which can occur anonymously or otherwise on social media, in quiet conversations, by open verbal onslaughts or through physical violence”.

“Human dignity does not, however, depend on the colour of a person’s skin, their nationality, accent, or their religious affiliation. Every person is created in the image of God and called into a relationship with Him”, the prelates insisted.

The Bishops called for respect for every human person without exception and for a complete avoidance of the use of offensive language.

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