GALWAY, Ireland, November 5 (IslamOnline.net) – Muslims to build the first Islamic cultural center outside Dublin in an effort to serve the community and create a better understanding with non-Muslims.
The plans to build the center in Galway, Ireland’s second largest county, comes to meet the growing needs of the Muslim community in the city, The Galway Advertiser reported on Thursday, November 5.
“Until last year this mosque was able to accommodate people and provide facilities for the community,” said Sheikh Khalid Sallabi, the Galway mosque preacher.
“But this year we have seen that it’s no longer enough and now lots of our activities take place outside the mosque, such as the Friday prayers which we hold in the Westside Community Centre and prayers we do during Ramadan which are held in the Shantalla Community Centre,” Sallabi added.
Galway is home to around 1,000-stong Muslim community.
It has only one mosque located in Riverside, south of the city, which was built by Muslim students of the National University of Ireland in the early 1980s.
The proposed Islamic center will include a mosque, classroom for Qur’an, religion, language, cultural, and computer studies, an exhibition centre on Islam, and an area for indoor sport activities.
The Galway Islamic Society has earlier made a submission to the Draft Galway City Development Plan to build the Islamic cultural center.
But Sheikh Sallabi admitted that the center will not be built for some time, as funds have to be sought and a site has yet to be identified and acquired. The GIS is in discussions with the city council on the matter.
“Things are happening but slowly,” he said.
“Our first priority must be to find land to build on. If we get the land then we will seek planning permission. The city council is doing its best to find land and we have great hopes,” he added.
The Islamic society is hopeful to get the city council permission to build the Islamic cultural center as near as possible from the University College Hospital of Galway (UCHG) as many Muslims in the city are students or medics.
“It has to be easy to access from the city centre and to be in a location that is practical for people to reach,” Sallabi was quoted by the Advertiser as saying.
The proposed Islamic cultural center is hoped to preserve the Muslims’ identity and create a better understanding between the Muslims and non-Muslims in the city.
“It will help Muslims keep their identity and feel at home. Galway is a multi-cultural place and this centre will reflect that as our community is from all over the world,” Sheikh Sallabi said
“Also a real benefit will be to build bridges with others. You won’t need to go to the Middle East to find out about Muslims. They are here and this will be a place open to everyone. It can be play a positive role in creating bonds between Muslims and non-Muslims.”
Muslims are estimated at 15,000 of Ireland’s four million population, most of them living in the capital Dublin.