November 22, 2022

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Eid al-Adha has been celebrated for the third year at Croke Park, with a message that the Republic is one of the most tolerant countries in Europe.

Several hundred Muslims assembled on the pitch at Croke Park in advance of what will be one of the busiest GAA weekends of the year, with four football matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Eid al-Adha is the second most important festival in Islam and marks Abraham’s offer of the sacrifice of his son to God. Eid al-Fitr, which occurred in April, marks the end of Ramadan.

This year the stadium welcomed the highest number of participants yet, as capacity was limited in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Organiser Shaykh Umar al-Qadri, the chair of the Irish Muslim Council, spoke of the Republic as a welcoming place for Muslims, but he highlighted two attacks in the last year on the mosque in Belfast.

“We have an experience that is the best in the whole of Europe. Our experience of being a Muslim in Ireland is phenomenal,” he said.

“As you can see, we can celebrate our Irish Muslim identity in the most iconic Irish venue of them all, Croke Park.

“This is our experience in the South. In the North our experience is very negative and very difficult. There are certain regressive elements within these communities that target minorities.”

Irish Muslim performance poet Bilal Mu’azzam read a poem called Home and one called The Pavement about the “black nod” which one black person gives in Ireland to another. “Know that your salute makes you worthy of the pavement/And know that community is what makes us a nation.”

The event was co-hosted Rausani Zahoor and Hajra Ellyas from Dublin. Ms Zahoor said: “Croke Park is the home of sport and concerts. To be able to pray on the pitch and to be blessed by the Gaelic fans is great.” Ms Ellyas added: “To be able to celebrate Eid with our families here is wonderful.”

A number of politicians addressed the gathering, including Minister for Sport Jack Chambers, who said the Eid celebration was in Croke Park “in the pursuit of growing our understanding of one another, building inclusive and cohesive community integration and in sharing this special time together”.

He condemned the attack on the Belfast mosque. “This incident and others serve as a reminder to us all that we all need to fight intolerance and reject hatred in our lives.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald also condemned the “heinous act” carried out by those who attacked the mosque in Belfast.

“We are raising the generation that could live in the new republic in friendship, freedom and respect. The possibilities are endless.

“Our Muslim community must be part of reaching that destination — Ireland a home for all.”

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