A Newtownards mosque has been attacked by graffiti and a pig’s head was left at the front of the building.
Strangford MP Jim Shannon has called the attack on the mosque and the Islamic Centre in Newtownards “totally unacceptable and outrageous”
He said: “This despicable crime has insulted not only the Muslim Community in Newtownards but every person in Newtownards.
“I have met the Muslim group in the town and will be meeting them again to reassure them that we stand alongside them as they respond to an atrocious and unprovoked attack on their property. I have helped the Mosque and their congregation in the past and will continue to do so.
“I have known them since they put in a planning application and began to get established within our community and the Muslim Community in Newtownards have made a valuable contribution to the Newtownards locality as a whole.
“They chose to integrate well into our society, they are all people that we know, good people whose families and businesses have been in the town for 40 years. It’s extremely hard to understand the mind of people who would commit such a hate crime.
“The criminals who did this are not representative of the people of Newtownards and indeed I would question whether the perpetrators are indeed even from this area. The local Presbyterian Church lets those from the Mosque use spaces in their car park and it is clear that all of those in Newtownards and across the district totally abhor the activities of a few who need to be clearly put in jail.
“Everyone in Newtownards lives together and gets on well together and it is therefore time those thugs who attacked the Mosque understand this. We stand together with our Muslim fellow Newtownards citizens and we as a society condemn in the strongest terms these disgraceful actions.
Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong also has condemned the attack and said: has said: “I am disgusted after a pig’s head was left on the doorstep and graffiti daubed on the walls of the Islamic Centre in Newtownards.
Police have confirmed the incidents, which are believed to have happened late on Wednesday night. They are being treated as hate crimes.
“It is disgusting there are those who wish to attack a place of worship and in such a sickening manner.
“Those who carry out such hate crimes seek to drive a wedge between people here by heightening racial and religious tension. We must all stand together to condemn and defeat them.
“If anyone has information about this attack, I would urge them to contact police immediately on 101.”