Bacon attack on an American mosque: prank or hate crime?
Strips of bacon spelling 'PIG' and 'CHUMP' were found in front of a South Carolina mosque Sunday. In post-9/11 America, pork – which is unclean in Islam – is a primary form of anti-Muslim protest.
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According to the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), attacks on mosques, cases of Americans burning and even shotgun-blasting Qurans, and personal confrontations on streets have ticked up in recent months. Such claims are hard to quantify, experts say, because more people may simply be reporting incidents that went unheeded in the past.Skip to next paragraph
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Anecdotal evidence points to the use of pork as an anti-Islamic protest in recent years. For example:
- In September, the US Postal Inspection Service reported that at least four packages containing hate letters and bacon were sent to American mosques from Denver. CAIR is a regular recipient of pork-related hate mail.
- In March, two Minnesota high school students allegedly shoved bacon in the faces of several Muslim classmates, according to a CAIR complaint.
- In 2007, a Texas farmer held afternoon pig races on Friday – the Muslim holy day – to protest a proposed mosque next to his farm.
- In 2006, a severed pig's head was thrown into a Maine mosque during prayers.
- Overseas, 7,000 protesters held a "pork sausage and booze" party in Paris this summer, which was designed as a provocation against Muslims and a protest against the perceived Islamicization of France.
- On the Internet, bloggers are invoking pork to incite Muslims. In a recent column on the conservative Town Hall.com, Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina, proposed several pork-related pranks against the "ground zero mosque," including "building a large bomb filled with bacon grease. Dubbed the 'Mother of All Bacon,' or MOAB, this bomb would not hurt anyone but would permanently defile the location so that no one could worship there."
"The problem is you could look at [such incidents] and say, 'Oh, well, it's just some idiot doing something stupid,' but I think it should be viewed against the overall rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in society," says Ibrahim Hooper, director of CAIR. "Right now, the whole pork theme is quite popular with the Muslim haters out there."
Weariness with Muslim sensitivities
The pork attacks come amid tensions in the US about how to talk about Islam in popular culture. A Seattle artist who proposed – then withdrew – a call for a "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day" in protest of a censored "South Park" episode, recently left her job, moved, and changed her name on the FBI's advice after radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki issued a fatwa for her death, the New York Post reported last month. Islam forbids the depicting of the Prophet Mohammed.