Concern has been expressed by Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork Paul Colton at reports of an assault on Imam Ihab Ahmed of the Blarney Street mosque in the city on Wednesday night.
Saying he was "horrified" to hear of the alleged assault, Bishop Colton said "it appears this nasty incident, in the course of which Sheikh Ihab was knocked to the ground and stolen from, is not the first occasion on which he has been targeted".
It was “incumbent on us all to work together in society to educate, to foster understanding, to nurture good relationships and to build communities strengthened by diversity and inclusion,” he said.
The chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri also expressed concern at what he described as a “racist attack”.
Shaykh Al-Qadr said it was the third assault of a member of the Muslim community in Cork this year. He called on Cork City Council to "immediately hold a public hearing on growing Islamophobia and hate crimes in the city".
The latest incident took place on Cork’s Cathedral Street at about 11pm as Imam Ahmed and his wife were walking to their car. A young man knocked him to the ground and stole his Muslim head gear.
Imam Ahmed told The Irish Times he believed the man was in his early 20s. He reported the incident to gardaí and spent the night in hospital with an injured hand.
He said he had been in Cork for 10 years and that Irish people were "very friendly and we're happy to be here. What happened last night is a very bad indicator that the future could be bad in Ireland for Muslim people. I don't want the hatred to spread to Ireland," he said.
Gardaí said they were treating the incident as a theft and investigations were ongoing. No arrests have been made.
Shaykh Al-Qadr told The Irish Times that a Pakistani man was "severly injured" in Cork city recently while a Muslim woman had her hijab forcibly removed.
He said both incidents were reported to gardaí but, he added, attacks on Muslims in Ireland were frequently not reported as the victims feared it might make their situation worse.
“It is very worrying that for the past few years Islamophobia is increasing and this shows that even Ireland is not immune to bigotry and hatred. We must root out such hatred,” he said.
In Dublin last May three Muslim men were punched, kicked and beaten unconscious by four assailants as they were cycling home from Marlay Park in Rathfarnham.
Earlier in the year a Muslim man was attacked on Dublin’s Thomas Street while a Muslim delivery man was badly beaten in a Dublin suburb.