Slices of bacon were laid down on a brink walkway to the Florence Islamic Center in Florence, S.C. on Sunday in a manner that spelled out “PIG CHOPS.” The incident — evidently aimed the center because of the Islamic dietary restrictions against pork — is just the latest in a string of anti-Muslim episodes around the country.
In fact this isn’t the first time even this particular mosque has been hit — earlier this year vandals broke windows in the facility, according to local news station ABC 15.A conflicting Associated Press report said the bacon slices were arranged to spell out “PIG CHUMP.” The bacon slices were placed on the sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Florence Police Major Carlos Raines told the AP.
“There’s absolutely nothing that identifies it as a mosque,” Raines told the AP. “It’s an insult, and I’m sure that’s what it was intended for.”
Mushtaq Hussain, a member of the center, made the police complaint, telling officers he believed the incident was a hate crime because Muslims do not eat pork, according to SCNow.com. Raines said the department plans to increase patrols near the center.
Abdul Ghani, a member of the board of the 30-family large Islamic center, told TPMMuckraker that members of the center weren’t too worried about the incident, but he said it indicated that there was a need for non-Muslims to be educated about the beliefs of Muslims.
“We didn’t take it too serious,” he said. “We wanted to let everybody know what happened. People don’t know about our religion and they are just more influenced by the news.”
He said that the South Carolina neighborhood where the Islamic Center is located is fairly diverse.
“We are here, mixed, between… American people and Pakistani and Arabs,” Ghani said. “We are not too big a group of people, not too big a community, but we are mostly family people and small business people here.”
The Florence Islamic Center is currently raising money to build a Masjid in the town, according to their website. Several anti-Muslim incidents have been tied to the construction of new mosques.
Police are investigating, according to local news station NewsChannel 15. TPMMuckraker left a message with a police spokesman, but the call was not immediately returned.
A top Justice Department official recently visited Murfreesboro, Tenn. in an attempt to reassure Muslims who have been the victims of arson and vandalism in that area. The official, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, had noted in a previous speech that Muslim-Americans “continue to struggle for acceptance in many communities” and “have not yet realized the full promise of equal opportunity and equal justice.”