Community gardaí will be attending prayer services in mosques throughout the country today, to provide support to the Muslim community as they mark their Holy Day.

It comes after 49 people were killed in gun attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In a statement, gardaí said the exercise will enable community gardaí to make themselves available to local Muslim communities in the wake of what it calls "the terrible events in New Zealand".

The brief statement highlights that gardaí has what it calls "a productive and positive relationship with the Muslim community in Ireland", which has been built up over many years.

At the time of the 2016 census, there were 63,443 Muslims in the Republic of Ireland. They comprised 1.3% of the overall population.

Earlier, a leading Muslim cleric in Ireland said members of his community have told him they are very fearful and concerned about their safety following the New Zealand attacks.

The Imam of the Dublin-based Islamic Centre of Ireland, Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri also said that representatives of this country's Jewish community had contacted him this morning with messages of condolence.

Speaking to RTÉ News, he said there was a lot of fear in the Muslim community in Dublin 15 where he is based.

He said people are conscious that New Zealand was a most unlikely target for attacks of this kind because its Islamic community had no political identification of any kind.

"We're extremely appalled and shocked at the terrorist attacks in New Zealand", Dr Al-Qadri said.

Speaking from the ICI's main mosque in Blanchardstown, he said the attack, like all other terrorist attacks, "aimed to divide our communities and spread hatred, anger and fear among us all."

He urged all in this country and elsewhere to unite against all forms of extremism, hatred and bigotry.


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"I'm thankful to the many Irish political and religious leaders who have contacted me and given their messages of condolence and sympathy," said Dr Al-Qadri.

He singled out for mention messages he had received from Rabbi Zalman Lent of the Irish Jewish Community and from a representative of the Jewish Representative Council in Ireland.

Dr Al-Qadri said one of the imams at the mosques that were attacked in Christchurch is known to the circle of Islamic scholars to which he belongs.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin has said Irish Muslims are saddened by the events in New Zealand. 

Spokesperson Dr Ali Selim said the video of the killings had been circulating among the Muslim community here and it caused shock as people believed they were watching a video game. 

He said the attack proved that terrorism has "no faith and no race"

He said those who have contributed to Islamaphobia need to consider if they have contributed to what happened in New Zealand. 

However, he said the centre will not be increasing security in the wake of the events because they do not expect something similar to happen in Ireland. 

Dr Selim said the Muslim community appreciated the messages of condolences received by various statutory bodies in Ireland and that the message of President Michael D Higgins was comforting 

He said it was an "unprecedented atrocity" the likes of which the Muslim community has never seen before.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin has said he is concerned about anti-Islamic sentiments being expressed in publications purporting to be of Catholic inspiration.

Dr Diarmuid Martin also cautioned against the circulation of similar views on social media here.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said Dr Martin would not be naming the publications concerned.

In a statement expressing his shock at what he called "the horrific shootings at two Mosques in Christchurch", the archbishop asked that prayers be said at all Masses in the Archdiocese on the Feast of Saint Patrick in remembrance of those who died and were injured in the attacks.

A short remembrance service of silence and reflection will be held in Dublin's Pro-Cathedral before Sunday's the 11am mass.

The Archbishop has invited people to join the service which will also renew the rejection by Christian believers of all forms of religious and racial intolerance.

The service will take place between 10.30am and 10.50am and books of condolence will be opened for a short period after the mass.

Books of condolence will also be open at the cathedral over the weekend, from 11am tomorrow.

Elsewhere, chair of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Council for Life Bishop Kevin Doran has called on Catholic congregations to pray this weekend for the dead and wounded of the Christchurch attacks.

In a statement, Dr Doran also criticised people who unjustly blame the entire Muslim community for the extremism of some.

He said it is just as unacceptable to speak and write in racist or sectarian terms against Muslims as it is to speak and write in similar terms about Christians.

The bishop said he was deeply saddened at news of the attacks which he called "savage". He added that everybody of whatever religious tradition can identify with the implications of the shootings for a congregation gathered for worship.

Additional reporting Samantha Libreri