Bigotry on display in Lewiston mosque incident

Copyright  2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Thursday, July 6, 2006

Painting a swastika on a synagogue door.

Defiling a cross in a church sanctuary.

Those are rough equivalents for the offense that took
place Monday when a Lewiston man desecrated an Islamic
house of worship.

Police say Brent Matthews admitted he rolled a frozen
pig's head through the open door of the
Lewiston-Auburn Islamic Center into a group of 40
muslim men as they bowed in prayer.

The 33-year old immediately fled the scene, as might
be expected. He later confessed, telling police he
"thought it was funny; it was going to be a big joke."

Where does one begin to confront such distorted

The Koran, like the Old Testament, prohibits its
adherents from eating pork. Muslims, like observant
Jews, also consider the pig itself to be unclean and
therefore to be shunned.

So rolling a frozen pig's head into a mosque is
therefore not only an act calculated to insult and
provoke outrage. It also displays profound contempt
for the dignity of others and an utter lack of respect
for their beliefs.

This nation was founded by colonists who braved an
ocean crossing and settled an alien land in search of
religious freedom. That this would happen on the eve
of Independence Day adds to the odium quotient of the

Thankfully, Lewiston police responded quickly. By
assigning extra detectives to the investigation, the
department showed it understood the significance of
the crime.

Matthews was only charged with desecrating a church, a

However, the Androscoggin County District Attorney's
Office and the state Attorney General's Office should
follow up on Lewiston police's recommendation that
they consider it a potential hate-bias crime.

This contemptible act should not pass without a stern
rebuke from the legal system. 


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