Ireland: Far-right protesters abuse priest over blessing with Muslims

25th Sep 2020
Ireland: Far-right protesters abuse priest over blessing with Muslims

Elham Asaad Buaras

A catholic priest was abused by a group of Islamophobes last month after he hosted a blessing for members of the Muslim community in his church in County Mayo in Ireland, reported the Irish Independent.

Parish priest Father Stephen Farragher was verbally abused outside St Patrick’s Church in Ballyhaunis, ahead of Mass on August 15. Farragher invited two Muslims to “pray in solidarity” with him “the final blessing and prayer”.

Mohammed Cherbatji and Mohammed Rahmani joined Farragher to seek a blessing on all frontline health care workers and frontline workers during the pandemic and pray for the eradication of the Wuhan virus. The church was reportedly empty because of the Wuhan virus restrictions.

However,fewer than a dozen protesters gathered outside St Patrick’s Church, criticising the priest for inviting members of the Muslim community to Mass. Farragher told the group he had “no objection” to a peaceful protest but asked them to hold it outside the gates of the church.

A number of self-proclaimed far-right “Catholic nationalists”, verbally abused the priest, with one accusing the priest of inviting a “satanic pagan worshipper” into the church.

Farragher replied to the protesters with a quote from that day’s First Reading, saying, “Everyone who acts with integrity and justice is welcome at the mountain of the Lord.”

Farragher was defended by parishioners, who stood in between him and the protesters and asked them to leave.

It is understood a number of local people have been sending messages of support to the parish priest since the incident. Ballyhaunis is one of the most culturally diverse small towns in Ireland and has a strong Muslim population.

The town’s old convent is a direct provision centre, and several of asylum seekers work in local nursing homes.The group responsible for the demonstration has been trying to spread a video of the incident online. It has also criticised Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for attending the historic Eid celebration in Croke Park last month.

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