Pig’s head hung on gates of planned Islamic school and cultural centre

A race row today broke out in Newcastle’s West End after a pig’s head was hung on the gates of a planned Islamic school and cultural centre. The Chronicle was anonymously sent the gruesome photographs, too graphic to publish, after the severed head was skewered on to the railings yesterday.

The new centre will be in the former Bishop’s Palace in Benwell, Newcastle, which was later a pub called the Mitre, and also starred as the youth club in the hit BBC TV children’s drama Byker Grove.

Mystery had surrounded future plans for the venue off Benwell Lane since it was bought in September in a knock-down £300,000 deal. But on Saturday the Chronicle revealed the new owner as Newcastle-based BAHR Academy, which provides community facilities in multi-cultural areas. The group now hopes to raise a further £500,000 for building repairs and equipment before submitting a planning application to the city council next year.

But the plan has been blighted by racial hatred after the animal’s head was hung on the railings and then placed outside the front door.

Today Coun Dipu Ahad, who represents the area on Newcastle City Council, hit out. He said: “I have heard it is the far right who are stirring a lot of racial hatred. It creates hatred and encourages someone to go and put a pig’s head on the gates of the building. The centre is going to be an Islamic school and cultural centre which will be open to the whole community, not just the Asian community.”

Yunus Bakhsh, a spokesman for Unite Against Fascism, said: “I think this is absolutely appalling. It shows the level of racism, intelligence and ignorance of the people who did this. This is a sick act to hang a pig’s head on the gates. It is something the Nazis did back in the 1930s.”

Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 11 November 2010