Pig’s head attack on Finsbury Park mosque

Islamophobic thugs stuck a pig’s head on to the gates of an Islington mosque – offending hundreds of worshippers.

The two men sneaked up to North London Central Mosque, in St Thomas’s Road, Finsbury Park, in the dead of night and hung a cooked pig’s head on the railings. CCTV footage showed them taking pictures of themselves with the macabre object. The head was not discovered until almost three hours later, when those arriving for early morning prayers were greeted by the sickening sight.

Pigs are considered unclean in Islam, and the attack on the place of worship will be seen as a grave insult by Muslims. In May, a protester from a right-wing extremist group sparked outrage when he left a severed pig’s head at a mosque in Dudley, near Birmingham.

Mohammad Kozbar, a trustee at the St Thomas’s Road mosque, said: “People came early in the morning to pray and saw a pig’s head hanging on the front of the mosque. We feel shocked and frustrated. Every now and then we get hate phone calls, with swearing and racist abuse, but this is very serious.

“We are worried that the attackers might do something more than this – such as setting fire to the mosque or bringing far-right groups to demonstrate.”

The mosque, which used to be called Finsbury Park Mosque, has been striving to rebuild both its reputation and its relationship with the community ever since it was taken over by the hook-handed extremist Abu Hamza between 1999 and 2004.

The current trustees, who took over in 2005, believe the pig’s head incident happened because Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood, himself a former trustee, recently cast fresh aspersions on the mosque.

In a letter to home secretary Theresa May, Mr Mahmood asked her to look into an allegation made on American radio that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – the man accused of attempting to blow up a transatlantic jet on Christmas Day – had attended North London Central Mosque in the autumn of 2006 or 2007 to listen to a sermon by the radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.

Mr Kozbar, who insists the allegations are completely false, said: “Since we took over in 2005, we have worked to clear the mosque’s name. We have never hosted Abdulmutallab and al-Awlaki. They have never come to our mosque, at least not since 2005 when we took over.”

Mr Mahmood denied that his comments had anything to do with the pig’s head attack – which he deplored as a “sacrilege on a religious place”. He said: “I have asked Theresa May to look into it (the terrorist allegations). What is wrong with that?”

Islington police said they were treating the incident very seriously. Detective Superintendent Adrian Usher said: “The nature of the crime, and the level of preparation it entailed, means I would definitely not dismiss it as a prank. Two people have offended a significant section of my community.”

Anyone who knows the identity of the perpetrators, or who believes they may have sold them a pig’s head or an entire suckling pig, should call the Community Safety Unit on 07909 535819 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Islington Gazette, 29 July 2010