CAIRO - An Irish Muslim woman has been harassed for praying in a park in Dublin with a friend after a security worker asked them to end their prayers "in case they break their backs".
"We were praying peacefully. We were not chanting or causing any disturbance to the public, the woman, named Sajida, told Irish newspaper The Independent.
Then he honked his horn and told us we needed a permit to pray," she said.
The case occurred last Thursday when a security worker confronted the two women in Griffith Park, Drumcondra, told them they needed a permit to pray.
Sajida, a mother-of-three, said she was still "deeply hurt" by the incident.
"He told us to stop. I felt harassed and intimidated," she said.
The employee works for Security firm Manguard Plus which has a contract with Dublin City Council to provide a warden service at the park.
Sajida has requested that her full name not be published due to fears that publicity would spark a negative reaction for her family.
Her children are all Irish, speak Irish and attend local schools. Her husband works in Dublin.
As the news went viral, the company boss decided to suspend the worker, rejecting his comments.
"I have lived in the Middle East so I know how important prayers are to people who practice this faith, company boss Bill Brown said.
We completely condemn our worker's actions, he said.
Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rakah.
The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.
Spreading her story in public, the Muslim woman said she wanted to assure that others would not be subjected to potential "Islamophobia".
This was total harassment, Sajida said
Deep in my heart, I know what happened to me and my friend was wrong. I feel so strongly about that.
"For me, what he said is as silly as telling people that they cannot bless themselves in public. We pray five times per day, that is part of our faith.
My faith is personal and I feel it was violated," she added.
Muslims make up 1.1 percent of the 4.5 million people in Ireland, but their ranks are swelling due to immigration, domestic births, and in some cases conversion.
Two decades ago, they numbered about 4,000.
A 2011 census recorded 49,204 Muslims, including nearly 12,000 school-aged children. The numbers represent a 51 percent increase since 2006.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net