LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- We’re following new developments tonight in that pig dumping incident outside the Islamic Center in Lawton. The Oklahoma Chapter of the council on American-Islamic Relations–or CAIR- is now calling on the FBI to investigate what it’s calling a hate crime.
As we first told you yesterday, Lawton police have begun their investigation. The act was captured on surveillance video cameras at the center.
It happened sometime Tuesday night. The video shows a truck pull up and turn around. Then a pig carcass fell off the truck bed, right at the doorstep of the center.
The incident is highly offensive because Muslims are forbidden to eat pork as stated in their holy book, the Quran.
CAIR says -their office has seen a spike in hate crimes targeting American Muslims and other minority groups since the presidential election. According to CAIR, the incident is not just offensive, it sends a message of intimidation and hatred towards the Muslim community. They are asking state and national leaders to help heal the divisions and put an end to the negativity and hatred.
CAIR-Oklahoma Executive Director Adam Soltani says this is not the first time someone has targeted American Muslims and he wasn’t surprised it happened again.
“We have seen numerous incidents of vandalism remarks, or hate towards Islamic Centers in our state. Here in Oklahoma City, we have an Islamic Center that was vandalized twice with paintballs being shot at it, with very graphic graffiti and curse words.The Islamic Society of Edmond, about a year later, was vandalized with bacon wrapped around the door handle as well as left in the parking lot,” said Soltani.
Soultani seen other incidents of pig carcasses left at other Islamic centers and, to see it now in Lawton, is saddening and concerning and the incidents appear to be worsening across the country since the general election.
“We have seen an increase in hate crimes as we have seen an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric in the last year. We are worried now that president-elect Trump will be taking office very soon that he will further embolden individuals that chose to propagate hatred and that is not something that an elected official will do,” explained Soultani.
Soultani says elected officials should be a voice of reason, against hatred, bigotry, and division. He’s also calling specifically on an Oklahoma lawmaker who has criticized Muslims in the past.
“We want to hold all our elected officials accountable and we recognize that hate rhetoric does not exist within that vacuum. People like representative John Bennett speaks in such hateful ways and propagates hatred and it gets the attention of the media and other people in the state and that is one of our great concerns with his rhetoric in the last few months and truly in the last few years,” Soultani claimed.
Soultani says the Muslim community shares his concerns and is taking extra precautions to educate the community about issues concerning their safety and security. He plans to visit Lawton hoping to build coalitions of faith groups to create a dialogue to help others better understand the Muslim faith.
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Lawton also released a statement today, saying in part, “The act of vandalism and hate perpetrated against the Lawton Islamic Center goes against everything we stand for as Americans and as Unitarian Universalists. We denounce hate, cowardice, and violence in words and deeds.”
A medicine park woman who is choosing not to share her name is also speaking out about the incident. She claims the dead pig belonged to her.
The woman says her family captured the pig Sunday and was going to butcher it, and roast it for a Christmas party. She says it was a wild black male pig, with a long rooting snout, weighing about 80 pounds.
She says the pig was in a cage that could only be opened by a human. She checked the cage Tuesday morning and the pig was there but that afternoon the pig was missing.
She saw our story about the Islamic center on Facebook and believes it is the same pig that was dumped off.
“We were shocked because it wasn’t that the pig had gotten out. It was that someone had let it out. Someone had taken it and let it out so we were shocked we wondered who would purposely go onto the property to get the pig, opened the gate and took it. I think it’s too big of a coincidence for it probably not to be,” she stated.
The woman says she is looking to install cameras around her home to catch thieves in action.