NEW YORK – Photographs of a group of people dressed up as members of the Ku Klux Klan outside a local mosque in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, are being investigated by police as a possible hate crime, Belfast Telegraph reported on October 29.
“We’re aware of images that are circulating online which show around ten people dressed as Ku Klux Klan members with their distinctive pointed-hooded costumes,” stated Inspector Richard Murray from the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
“Our inquiries are ongoing, and we’re treating this as a hate incident at this time.”
The Ku Klux Klan is an extremist Christian Protestant movement that was created in the US in 1865 and is known since then for its terrorism against Christian Catholics.
As of 2016, the estimated membership of the terrorist organization in the US was around 6,000 members. Although its members swear to uphold Christian morality, the majority of Christian denominations have denounced it.
Kellie Armstrong of Strangford Alliance MLA constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly expressed that “some people might try to say they were out for Halloween but I’d have to say if that’s the case then these are certainly not the most appropriate costumes to be wearing.”
“Everyone knows the history of the Ku Klux Klan, what they stood for, the crimes the organization committed and the connotations these outfits convey. This wasn’t a mistake or an unfortunate choice of outfits,” she added.
English Occupation’s Progeny
It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t the first Islamophobic incident against Newtownards Islamic Center.
The mosque was previously attacked in August 2017 when a slaughtered pig’s head was left at its door and an Islamophobic graffiti was painted on the building.
The attacker isn’t identified till the moment although speculations and police investigations point at Ku Klux Klan members and other Protestant groups which inhabit Northern Ireland since the ‘Plantation of Ulster’ when the English occupation under the King James I planned organized colonization of the north of Ireland by English and Scottish colonizers since 1606.
Northern Ireland shifted from being an almost wholly Irish Gaelic Catholic region like the rest of Ireland to a Unionist British Protestant breakaway region.
While there was a small number of Muslims living since 1921 in what became Northern Ireland, the bulk of Muslims in the region today come from immigration during the late 20th century.
The 2001 Census reported that there were 1,943 Muslims living in Northern Ireland.
In 2009, the Belfast Islamic Centre which was established in 1978 estimated that the number of Muslims increased to over 15,000.