New York police are investigating an incident as a bias crime that took place on Staten Island. Muslim New Yorkers who gathered for prayer to celebrate the end of the Ramadan fast in a city park found three packages of raw bacon scattered on the ground on August 20, according to local reports. The celebration was held at a New Dorp football field on August 19, and attracted some 1,500 persons to the Sunday celebration.
To their horror, worshippers found raw bacon strewn on the field. Pork in any form is abhorrent to the Islamic faith, while any Muslim who touches or ingests it is considered polluted. Said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly of the bacon strewing, "This has been determined to be a bias event on the part of our Hate Crimes Task Force.” Kelly added, “On a website associated with this celebration was some derogatory comments and at the site itself, three packages of raw bacon were found.”
According to Hesham El-Meligy, someone left what he considered offensive messages on his organization's website. The messages apparently said, "…That he or she was going to do something with a fat pig right at the time of morning prayer,” said El-Meligy of the Islamic Civic Association of Staten Island. “The statement came from someone who identified himself as ’007Midland,’” Commissioner Kelly said on August 20. “Obviously, we’re conducting an investigation to determine who put the message on the website.”
Staten Island police are seeking to identify the person or persons responsible for the messages to the website. The Muslim organizers of the Ramadan event said that the messages are clearly trying to taunt Muslims through intimidation. “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 (CAIR). “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 in a radio report.
Because the bacon was found in time, the prayer service was shifted to an unpolluted area of the park. Worshippers, for the most part, did not know of the polluting pork products until the celebration had ended.
Police have broad discretion in prosecuting so-called hate-crimes and bias-crimes. Critics have called out police for what they consider to be a bias against non-Muslims in the investigations of these crimes.
However, according to FBI statistics, the great majority of hate crimes in the United States are committed against the Jewish community. Law enforcement agencies reported 1,376 hate crimes motivated by religious bias. A 2009 breakdown of biases for these offenses showed:
70.1 percent were anti-Jewish.
9.3 percent were anti-Islamic.
8.6 percent were anti-other religion.
4.4 percent were anti-multiple religions, group.
4.0 percent were anti-Catholic.
2.9 percent were anti-Protestant.
0.7 percent were anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc.