CAIRO - Giving a new sign of the growing Islamophobia in the British community, a pig head was dumped at a mosque in Leicester, sending shockwaves among the Muslim community over the growing effect of far-right parties in the European country.
"We were shocked and saddened by this development, As Salaam imam Mohammed Lockhat told the Guardian on Friday, December 28.
It's deeply discriminating and religiously offensive â¦ Every single day we have got people standing outside, protesters hurling insults, racist abuse.
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Shocking the Muslim minority, the head of the pig was discovered by worshippers from the As Salaam group at the Thurnby Lodge centre at 7.30am.
Islam considers pigs unclean because they are omnivorous, not discerning between meat or vegetation in their natural dietary habits unlike cows and sheep for instance, which eat only plants.
Muslims do not eat pork and consider pigs and their meat filthy and unhealthy to eat.
The incident came amid tension over the group's plans to open an Islamic centre in a disused Scout hut neighboring the community centre.
Controversy surrounding the new Islamic center plans started a year ago when the city council gave As Salaam group the go ahead for the hut, which the Scouts no longer use.
The center was planned to provide food-sharing services, and drug and alcohol advice and education.
Lockhat said the Islamic community's work in the hut would be aimed at improving life for everyone and that Thurnby Lodge centre would still be available for the local community.
But some residents complained that the hut should be available for the wider community.
There have been months of protests, including involvement by the English Defence League and the British National party, whose leader Nick Griffin visited the area in August.
In November 2010, British police warned that the anti-Muslim demonstration by the EDL fuel extremism and harm social cohesion in Britain.
Facing growing protests, the city council put As Salaam's plans out for consultation and said a decision would be made in January.
Police have launched an investigation in Leicester that has seen heightened far-right activity in recent months.
Leicester's community denounced the incident as discriminating against the Muslim religious minority.
"The only people using the community centre on Wednesday were from a local Muslim group and it's easy to draw the conclusion that the pig's head was meant for them, and is the reason we believe this to be religiously motivated, superintendent Mark Newcombe said.
We have no tolerance for discrimination in Leicester, be that racially or religiously motivated, and we want members of the public to help us do all we can to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
The campaign against As Salaam has not just affected Muslims, with members of the bingo club at Thurnby Lodge complaining of intimidation.
Lockhat said protesters shouted "traitors" at people aged in their 70s and 80s.
"We are very, very peaceful â¦ We are not here to take over anyone's land," he said.
"We work in the community."
Muslims insisted that the incident had only increased the group's commitment to stay
We weren't expecting this to happen but it was only a matter of time, Lockhat added.
British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.5 million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 2005 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
The anti-Muslim tide has also been on the rise across Europe, with several countries are restricting the freedom of Muslims to wearing face-veil and building mosques.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net