‘We have had small incidents with kids who were just being naughty, but nothing like this’
Imam Ibrahim Noonan outside the Maryam Mosque on the old Monivea Road in Galway on Tuesday. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
The imam of a Galway mosque which was attacked during Ramadan prayers on Monday night said its members were heartened by the wider community’s response to the incident.
Rocks were thrown through windows at the Masjid Maryam (Mosque of Mary) in Ballybrit, which is used by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
Gardaí in Galway are treating the incident, which happened after 11pm, as “serious” and have appealed for witnesses to come forward.
No one was injured in the incident but up to 100 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community were “very shaken”, according to Imam Ibrahim Noonan, who was leading prayers at the time.
“I heard a massive bang which sounded like a fuse had blown, and when the prayers were finished we looked up and saw double-glazed windows had been smashed.”
The windows broken by the rocks were above the main prayer room, where men and boys aged over six were gathered. A number of women and children from the segregated congregation were praying in a separate room.
Imam Noonan said two men were spotted running away after the incident and that gardaí are examining CCTV footage. He said he believed it was a “deliberate” attack, as the perpetrators knew the congregation was inside.
“We have had small incidents in the past with stone-throwing by kids who were just being naughty, but nothing like this,”he said.
While Imam Noonan said he feels the mosque was targeted as a result of the terrorist attack in London over the weekend, he was “very heartened” by the response from the wider community.
The Ard Family Resource Centre in Doughuisce, which adjoins Ballybrit, condemned the incident and said it was “not reflective of tolerance in this community”. The centre’s project co-ordinator Paul Frecklington visited Imam Noonan on Tuesday to express his concern and they plan to hold a meeting for the wider community later this week to “show the real, culturally diverse and tolerant face” of the city’s eastern perimeter.