Severed pig’s head thrown into mosque during prayer session

LEWISTON, Maine — A group of Muslim men praying at a Lewiston mosque were thrown for a jolt when somebody threw a severed pig’s head into the mosque. Police arrested a man on Tuesday who said he thought it was a joke.

A frozen pig’s head slightly larger than a basketball was rolled into the Lewiston Auburn Islamic Center on Lisbon Street at about 10:15 p.m. Monday, witnesses told the Sun Journal of Lewiston.

Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims, who are barred from eating pork, and the act was viewed as a deliberate insult upon the religion. “We cannot eat it. We cannot even sit next to someone who is eating it,” said a man who identified himself as Omar S.

When the incident occurred, about 40 men were bowed down as part of their prayer ritual. When the pig’s head rolled in, the men got up and ran outside but were unable to locate anyone. None of the men were hit by the animal head.

Lewiston police bagged the head as evidence and took it to the police station, witnesses said. Police Lt. Mark Watson said the head was then disposed of.

Brent Matthews, 33, of Lewiston, came to the police department on Tuesday, told a detective he had thrown the head and was charged with desecration of a church, a misdemeanor. The charge is considered a hate-bias crime, so Matthews’ case will be referred to the Attorney General’s office for further investigation, Lt. Don Mailhot said.

Matthews, who was out on bail, “admitted to doing it,” Mailhot said. “He thought it was funny; it was going to be a big joke. The police department doesn’t take anything like that lightly.”

Associated Press, 4 July 2006

See also CAIR press release, 4 July 2006