Irish Muslims perform Eid prayers on symbolic Croke Park pitch

A hurler positions his prayer mat on the Croke Park turf ahead of Eid Al-Adha prayers, Dublin, Ireland, 31 July, 2020. (Screengrab YouTube)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Irish Muslims perform Eid prayers on symbolic Croke Park pitch

  • Around 200 Muslims laid out prayer mats on the pitch usually used for the national sports of Gaelic football and hurling
  • Leaders of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish faiths attended and spoke at the event, which was broadcast live on television for the first time

DUBLIN: Irish Muslims performed prayers to mark the festival of Eid Al-Adha on Friday in Dublin’s Croke Park Gaelic sports stadium, a site of historic importance for Irish nationalists who always had a deep connection with the once dominant Catholic Church.
Around 200 Muslims laid out prayer mats on the pitch usually used for the national sports of Gaelic football and hurling and where in 1920 British troops opened fire on a crowd, killing 14 people during Ireland’s War of Independence.
Irish President Michael D. Higgins described it as an important moment in Ireland’s narrative. Leaders of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish faiths attended and spoke at the event, which was broadcast live on television for the first time.
With Muslims unable to hold large gatherings in mosques due to Covid-19 social distancing rules, Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri, chair of Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council, approached the management of Croke Park, who he said did not hesitate to offer the venue.
He got the idea after an Ikea store in Germany allowed Muslims to use one of its car parks for Ramadan prayers.
“Today this Eid prayer is sending a very strong message out to the whole world, that Ireland is indeed a country of céad míle fáilte,” he told the gathering, using the Irish language greeting translated as ‘100,000 welcomes’.
“No matter how different you are, once you come and you live here and become part of the society, this island of Ireland has this great, unique ability to adopt you.”
A series of sexual abuse scandals shattered the credibility of the Catholic Church which dominated Irish society for decades after its independence from Britain. Ireland has since experienced sweeping social change, including the introduction of abortion and gay marriage in recent years.
The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, told celebrants that there was something special about recognizing publicly the Muslim community’s place “as an integral part of the family of the Irish” in Croke Park.


Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 29 min 19 sec ago

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”