Update: After Lewiston Hate Crime, Muslims Call for Respect

July 6, 2006

Source: Portland Press Herald


On July 6, 2006 the Portland Press Herald reported, "The arrest of a man suspected of tossing a pig's head into a mosque has local and national Muslim leaders calling for a greater understanding of the Islamic faith. One day after police arrested Brent Matthews, 33, of Lewiston on a misdemeanor charge of desecrating a church, the Council on American-Islamic Relations decried the act as a hate crime...

Nuh said he has been receiving calls of support from Muslims around the country. He said followers must not be provoked by others and need to show that Islam is a faith rooted in peace.

About 40 men were bowed in prayer when the frozen pig's head was rolled into the Lewiston-Auburn Islamic Center Monday night. Muslims are prohibited from eating pork because pigs are considered unclean.

Matthews, who was arrested Tuesday and released on bail, told police he did it as a 'joke,' authorities said... [The Council on America-Islamic Relations] said the use of pigs or pork products has become a common means for attacking Muslims... Muslims at the Islamic Center Wednesday said the act was intended to offend.

'Any church you go to, you go with respect. Any community you go to, you go with respect,' said Ibrahim Hassan. That a pig's head would be on the same carpet where people kneel to pray 'was offensive,' he said.

Abdullah Yousef, said the incident left many in the community wondering if the center was a safe place. The quick apprehension of Matthews has helped to calm that some, he said"... Officials estimate there are more than 2,000 Somali Muslim refugees living in the Lewiston area. In 2002 former Mayor Larry Raymond sparked a controversy after sending a letter to Somali elders asking them to slow the influx of immigrants."