Athlone Imam condemns last week’s Brussels attacks

Imam Hafiz Saddiq of the Athlone Islamic Centre has joined other Muslim leaders from around Ireland in condemning the attacks which took place last week in Brussels.

In a letter submitted to The Irish Times and published last Thursday, seven representatives from the Irish Islamic Community condemned the violence committed in Belgium and expressed their “deepest sympathies” to the victims. The letter also criticised the perpetrators of the crime for their aim of spreading “fear and anxiety within communities”.

“It is important to keep in mind that the protection and sanctity of life applies to all in the eyes of God,” it reads. “Those who died in Turkey and Belgium and anywhere else in the world bled the same way and the families of the victims grieved the same way.

“As religious leaders and members of the community, we say it is important to continue praying for the safety and security of all people and to work hand in hand to bring about a lasting change that sees the eradication of hate and violence in our world.”

The letter also called on European communities not to point the finger of blame at refugees and the Muslim community in general, something they say only plays into the hands of the perpetrators of these crimes: “Too often we see that after atrocities, the backlash and blame falls on the wrong people, which feeds into and perpetuates the narrative of the extremists that perpetrate these crimes,” it reads.

“It shouldn’t be that accusations and blame are put on refugees that are entering Europe. We cannot forget that those fleeing their homelands in Syria and beyond are escaping from the same terror that has struck Belgium and Turkey. What also seems an unfortunate but inevitable outcome of terror attacks is the rise we see in anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia.

“The likes of Daesh that commit such atrocities do so with a false allegiance to Islam and its core tenets. It should not be that the actions of a misguided few tarnish a whole community that continues to distance itself from such crime.

“Let us continue to mourn the loss of lives in our own way and continue to pray for those that have lost their lives in Belgium, Turkey and anywhere else in the world.”

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