Belfast mayor Mairtin O' Muilleoir's outgoing prayer shows solidarity with Muslims
Published 03/06/2014 | 02:30
Outgoing Lord Mayor Mairtin O' Muilleoir showed his solidarity with local Muslims last night by starting his final council meeting with a nod to Islam.
Traditionally the Lord Mayor starts each meeting of Belfast City Council with a reading from the Bible.
However last night Mr O' Muilleoir instead commenced with the prayer for Belfast adapted for Islam.
The prayer was created with the help of the Sinn Fein man's Islamic chaplain Sheikh Mohammed El Rashidi at the start of the mayoral term last year.
It started: "Oh Allah, one of your name's meaning is peace, we pray to you Spreader of Peace among us."
Mr O' Muilleoir had 10 chaplains during his year as Lord Mayor including the main Christian denominations in Northern Ireland as well as Judaism, Islam, Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu and Quaker.
Earlier yesterday Mr O' Muilleoir met with Muhammad Asif Khattak, one of the Pakistani men whose home was attacked on Sunday.
He added that he was glad to hear that Pastor James McConnell had visited the men.
He also spoke to Alliance MLA Anna Lo, who emotionally revealed last week that recent racism has made her wary of staying in Northern Ireland.
He said he told her that as first citizen he felt she had the support and love of the city and was "our hero".
Mr O' Muilleoir previously told the Belfast Telegraph that he did not wish to comment on First Minister Peter Robinson's remarks about not trusting Muslims for spiritual advice.
"I am not commenting on the First Minister's comments and haven't, but my comments have been throughout the year that we do live in each other's shelter and we have to respect one another," he said.
Mr O' Muilleoir visited the Belfast Islamic Centre last week before travelling to the United States on mayoral duties.
"I visited the Islamic Centre before I left for America because I think we need to move to the light in the city any time when statements are made which cause worry to our ethnic minorities," he said.
"I think we need to move to reassure them that they are welcome and that we are grateful for their contribution.
"That's the same with the Poles who were subjected to dreadful racist attacks."