The Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking for a federal inquiry into an incident in which pigs legs were thrown onto the driveway of a proposed mosque site in Southern California.
The incident at the intended location of the Al-Nur Islamic Center occurred shortly before 10:00 PM on Tuesday, as about two dozen people were holding late-evening prayers under a special permit in connection with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The construction of a mosque at the location was approved earlier this year by San Bernardino County officials but has been held up by a lawsuit filed in April by a group of homeowners, who say it would be out of keeping with the rural character of their neighborhood and are demanding an environmental impact report.
Because of the local opposition, and because pigs are considered unclean by Muslims, CAIR believes there is reason for treating the incident as a possible hate crime.
“This has shaken up the community a bit,” a local CAIR spokeswoman, Munira Sayed, told the Los Angeles Times, “but they’re trying not to let it deter them.”
CAIR recently urged mosques in the United States to take precautions following vandalism at a mosque in Rhode Island, a suspicious fire that destroyed a mosque in Joplin, Missouri, and the mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
“We urge Muslim leaders nationwide to take immediate steps to boost security, particularly in the last 10 days of the ongoing fast of Ramadan, when religious activities at mosques reach their peak,” the CAIR press release stated.
Photo of a mosque under construction in California in 2005 by Cathy Cole via Flickr