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NZ shootings: Community gardaí attending prayers in Irish mosques today

Community gardaí are attending Friday prayers in mosques today in a bid to reassure the Muslim community following the terror attacks in New Zealand.

Imams and senior leaders in the community have expressed concern and anxiety for worshippers after reports emerged early this morning about the gun attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, claiming 49 lives.

In a statement to the Irish Examiner, the Garda Press Office said: “An Garda Síochána has a productive and positive relationship with the Muslim community in Ireland built up over many years.

“As part of this and to provide support following the terrible events in New Zealand, community gardai will be attending Friday prayer in their local mosque and making themselves available to those communities.”

Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, head Imam of the Islamic Centre of Ireland, said that he had been in contact with gardaí this morning in a bid to get a garda presence at his mosque in Blanchardstown, west Dublin today.

A representative of the Islamic Foundation of Ireland also said they had been in contact with local gardaí regarding a community garda calling in early to their mosque on Dublin's South Circular Road to provide assurance.

Dr Al-Qadri, who is chair of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, also issued a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the 49 people who have been killed, and dozens more who have been injured, after a gunman opened fire at Mosques in New Zealand during the Friday prayers.

“The gunman, like all other terrorists, aimed to spread hatred and fear. Innocent people have been killed in cold blood, but we will not let these terrorists and Islamophobes succeed. We must all stand together against all forms of extremism with unity.”

He said: “As Muslims, we are deeply concerned and anxious about growing levels of Islamophobia across the World. The threat of the far-right extremists is real, and we must realise the threat that they pose to our societies. Hatred of any community creates a downward spiral of violence and terror, which affects all in a society.

“We urge Muslims to remain calm and extra vigilant in this distressing time. IMPIC will continue to work with authorities to protect all of our communities against the growing threat posed by all extremists.”

He added: “Mosques in Ireland will hold special services during Friday prayers in memory of those affected by the terrorist shooting in New Zealand. We will be praying for the grieving families and for Peace and Compassion in our increasingly polarised world.

“I welcome the statements and messages of condemnation of these terrorist attacks and underlying messages of Unity and Solidarity with the Muslim communities from political, faith and civic leadership in Ireland.”

He had this to say to social media companies: “We also urge the social media companies around the world to play their important role by clamping down on extremism and hate narratives which are spread through their platforms.”