Thousands are expected at the Church of St Peter and Paul’s in Athlone today for the funeral of Larry and Martina Hayes, who were murdered in the attack on a tourist resort in Tunisia last Friday that killed 38 people.
In attendance to pay their respects will be representatives from the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council, who will also stage a rally on O’Connell Street in the capital at 1pm on Sunday July 26 to show Muslim opposition to the atrocities of Islamic State.
Speaking to the Pat Kenny Show today, Shaykh Dr Umar Al Qadri, CEO and founder of Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, has said he feel a duty to speak out against the crimes, as a Muslim and Irishman.
“I am a citizen of this country and the couple that has been killed, they were killed by people who claimed to act in Islam.
“As a Muslim it is my responsibility to be very clear that these actions do not have anything to do with Islam.
“It is our duty ... to share the sadness in this very difficult moment,” he added.
One week ago, the attacks in Tunisia were one of three major terrorist attacks globally, with a man beheaded in France and a suicide bomber killing 30 at a Shia mosque in Kuwait. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing.
“In Kuwait at the same time, while 38 people were killed in Tunisia, 30 people were killed in a mosque. We Muslims are also victims of these terrorists,” Dr Al Qadri said.
The attack in Kuwait was seen largely as an attempt to destabilise the Gulf nation, by the Sunni IS group, where Sunni and Shia communities live together peacefully. One of the central tactics of extremist Islamist groups in Iraq in particular has been to stoke sectarian hatred between Muslim groups.
A 2011 report by the US government’s National Counter-Terrorism Center found that "In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97% of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years."
A poster advertising the march in Dublin
With the deaths in Tunisia being the first time Irish citizens have been killed in an IS attack Dr Al Qadri said he feels it is important the Muslim community loudly condemns the atrocities.
“Now Ireland is affected, Irish citizens have been affected. So it is very important for Muslims to be very clear ... and to emphasise that is Islam can never justify killing, murder .. they can never be justified in the name of Islam,” he said.
“We are all very clear about this ...we condemn terrorism, we condemn the so-called Islamic State.”
The rise in attacks by Islamist militants globally in recent years, and particularly in the year since the founding of the Islamic Caliphate by Islamic State, has led to an increase in Islamophobia, Dr Al Qadri said.
“Some People, they assume that all Muslims would agree with these atrocities.”
He likened the anger towards all Muslims for the actions of a minority to the treatment of Irish citizens in England during the IRA’s bombing campaign in Britain.
“It is exactly like 30 years ago, the people in England assumed all Irish people agreed with the IRA. (This is ) the same thing the Muslim community is facing right now”
“It is very important that we are clear and we come out and express very openly that we do not agree with terrorism.”
“We have to highlight and show that part of Muslims that unfortunately nowadays many people do not see.”