NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are investigating an unusual bias crime on Staten Island.
Muslims who gathered for prayer to celebrate the end of Ramadan in a city park found bacon scattered on the ground, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported Monday.
With Ramadan ending this past weekend, Muslims celebrated the end of fasting with prayer. On Staten Island an outdoor service was held Sunday on a New Dorp football field, attracting some 1,500 Muslims.
But before most of the faithful arrived for Morning Prayer, it was discovered that someone had scattered a quantity of raw bacon on the field.
“This has been determined to be a bias event on the part of our Hate Crimes Task Force,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters, including WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb.
“On a website associated with this celebration was some derogatory comments and at the site itself, three packages of raw bacon were found,” Kelly added.
Followers of Islam are forbidden to eat pork. Even before the bacon was located, someone left offensive messages on the organization’s website.
“…That he or she was going to do something with a fat pig right at the time of morning prayer,” said Hesham El-Meligy of the Islamic Civic Association of Staten Island.
“The statement came from someone who identified himself as ’007Midland,’” Kelly said on Monday afternoon. “Obviously, we’re conducting an investigation to determine who put the message on the website.”
Police computer experts are trying to locate the identity of that person, whom Muslim organizers of the prayer service said was clearly trying to taunt Muslims through intimidation, like other symbols disturbing to African-Americans or Jews.
“Whether burning crosses or swastikas, a small minority are trying to threaten other people,” said Muneer Awad, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on Islamic Relations.
“This isn’t what America’s about. This isn’t about intolerance, our diversity is our strength and we’re encouraging people to embrace that diversity,” Awad told 1010 WINS.
Clearly what was done was offensive, someone hoping to incite people about to engage in prayer.
Because the offensive meat was found early, organizers said the prayer service was shifted to another area of the park. So, most of those present didn’t know of the problem until the service was over.