Park warden suspended for Muslim comment
Man allegedly told two women they could not pray in Dublin park
Muslim women offer Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Hazratbal shrine in Kashmir, India. Photograph: Getty Images
A warden has been suspended after allegedly telling two Muslim women they could not pray in a park.
An investigation has been launched after the women claimed that were left terrified and humiliated by the incident in Ireland.
Manguard Plus, which is contracted by Dublin City Council to enforce park by-laws, has apologised and begun a full investigation into the incident.
Bill Brown, managing director, said yesterday he is trying to contact the women who he admitted had been asked to “move” on the day.
“I can confirm an employee has been suspended on foot of an incident that occurred on August 10th,” said Mr Brown, who is trying to determine exactly what words were used. “Whatever the guard said it was contrary to his training and contrary to his instruction.
“There is nothing to prevent any kind of praying in a park. We are completely at fault,” he added.
The alleged incident happened as the women knelt in Griffith Park, Drumcondra, north Dublin, during one of the five daily calls to prayer that Muslims must observe.
One of the women, called Sajida, told the Irish Examiner she and a friend felt threatened and humiliated when the driver of a security van drew up and shouted that there was “no praying in the park”.
Sajida claims the man told them they needed a permit to pray. “I asked him where did it say that, to show me the policy,” she said. “He then said we could break our backs when we stood up and sue Dublin City Council.
“I told him five million people gather to pray in Mecca and we never heard of people breaking their backs.”
Sajida, who moved to Ireland from Britain 17 years ago, said the women had “never experienced anything like it before” and are seeking legal advice.
Dublin City Council said it had no record of a complaint or had any contact from the women involved.
“We have been in contact with the security firm and are waiting to see what exactly transpired,” a spokesman added.
Mr Brown has since listened back to a call the women made to the company on the day, but they did not leave any contact details and could not be traced. “I can empathise with how they feel, but I can only do that from talking to them directly,” he said.
Mr Brown said the firm employs 500 people representing every nationality and religion and that staff are conscious of different beliefs. He said the employee was quuestioned but could not give an explanation for what happened and was suspended pending further investigation.
“He has worked three seasons with us and we’ve never had an incident, never had an occasion to have concern or cause to question his work carried out,” he said. “He was completely flabbergasted that a mad moment of silliness could lead to this.”