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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Hate crime probe after pig’s head thrown at Southport Mosque (UK)

Police are investigating a hate crime against Southport’s Muslims after a pig’s head was thrown at Southport Mosque.

The dead animal was found lying outside the mosque on the night of Wednesday July 6.

It had been thrown over the wall of the place of worship on Sussex Road.

The pig is particularly offensive to Muslims as they regard the animal as unclean. Islam bans them from eating or touching the animal.

Police confirmed they were treating the incident as a hate crime which was being investigated by their specialist SIGMA team.

A spokesman for the Sussex Road mosque told the Visiter the pig head attack was a one-off incident and they had not had any similar incident.

“In general nothing of this nature has ever happened,” he said. “It was an isolated incident.”

Detectives are now investigating and following leads from the attack.

And last night Southport’s religious leaders united to condemn the attack.

Reverend Rod Garner from Holy Trinity Church on Manchester Road said: “It is disturbing, disappointing and disgusting.

“We have to be vigilant so as to protect other religions and their faith.”

He called on religions to learn from their own history and to teach tolerance.

And Reverend Richard Vernon from the Lakeside Christian Centre on the Promenade said: “I’m saddened to hear that such a thing would take place.

“It is disheartening to think people can behave like that. I’ve never heard of anything like that before.

“Whatever people’s religious belief that kind of behaviour is to be condemned.”

Police were called at 11.10pm to Sussex Road to reports a pig’s head had been thrown over a wall into the mosque’s grounds.

The head of the dead animal was taken away for forensic examination.

But the Visiter understands the incident was not caught on CCTV.

Superintendent Kevin Johnson said: “Merseyside Police will always take robust action when investigating reports of hate crimes.

“We are following up on some positive lines of enquiry in this case and we are confident that we will catch those responsible for this highly offensive act.

“The force has a number of specialist SIGMA investigation teams, which are dedicated to investigating crimes targeted at minority and vulnerable groups.

“One such team is leading this investigation and working with the relevant religious leaders.”

Merseyside Police is appealing to anyone who witnessed this incident, or who has information, to contact 0151 777 3165, or Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Southport Visitor