September 30th, 2014

First Minister meets with Islamic leaders in Belfast

Northern IrelandBy Jamie McDowell
First Minister Peter Robinson
First Minister Peter Robinson

First Minister Peter Robinson has met with Islamic leaders at Stormont.

Robinson has already been forced to apologise to the Muslim leaders after he defended controversial Belfast Pastor James McConnell who said that Islam was "satanic."

He then stated in an interview that would trust a Muslim "to go the shop for him", but does not trust those involved in violence or those devoted to Sharia law.

Public outrage following a spate of racist attacks in Northern Ireland and the comments made by Pastor McConnell and the First Minister culminated in a huge anti-racism rally at Belfast City Hall on Saturday. 

 Anna Lo of the Alliance party had recently stated that she would walk away from politics all together after being the victim or racist slurs herself, but the support she received on Saturday made her think again.

 On a possible return to politics,she told the Sunday World: "I’ll wait and see. Politics here new blood and I believe something good will come out of this.

 

 “People have come here today to show their support for all ethnic minorities and to show their disgust with what this politician [Peter Robinson] has said.”

 She added: “I don’t accept Peter Robinson's apology that he made in private. I’m sure he hates me for challenging him, but there are a lot of people here who want to hear a public apology.

 “If he is not prepared to make his public apology I think he should resign."

After Tuesday's meeting, one of the Muslim delegation who met with Robinson, Imam Ibrahim Noonan of the Galway mosque, said that he is 110% reassured that the First Minister's remarks were taken out of context, but said that he feels Pastor James McConnell should make a public apology.