BERN – Sending shockwaves across the peaceful Swiss Muslim community, body parts of a dead pig were buried on the site of a future mosque, in a new clear sign of growing anti-Muslim sentiments in the European country.
"Since the ban on minarets there's been an increase in Islamophobia and Islamophobic events, so it was not really surprising" Abdel Azziz Qaasim Illi, spokesman for Switzerland's Central Islamic Council, told CNN on Saturday, November 12.
A dead pig and four pig heads were buried at the site of a future mosque in the town of Grenchen.
The attack was uncovered last Friday when police received an anonymous message claiming that someone had buried the body parts in the proposed site for the mosque.
The unsigned flier, written in German, says "This operation was done (conducted) to protest against the growing expansion of Islam in Switzerland," and says that a similar desecration in Spain earlier halted another mosque construction project.
The note also said that 120 liters of blood from the animals were also spilled in the site to desecrate the ground to halt the construction of the mosque.
Islam considers pigs unclean because they are omnivorous, not discerning between meat or vegetation in their natural dietary habits unlike cows and sheep for instance, which eat only plants.
Muslims do not eat pork and consider pigs and their meat filthy and unhealthy to eat.
Illi said the deed "crossed a line" that had already been pushed against Muslims since a popular referendum in 2009 banned the construction of new mosque minarets.
"But it is an escalation in Switzerland because this is a peaceful country where Christians and Muslims have all been living together... and we are a bit afraid this may increase."
The mosque site was purchased several years ago by the local Muslim community from a Swiss far-right political activist.
The man claimed that he had not been informed that it would be used for a mosque and had fought the sale in court, before losing his civil case recently, paving the way for the construction to go forward.
Mosque Goes On
Though the message clearly targeted the Swiss Muslim community, the police said that whoever is responsible will not face hate crime charges.
"We can't say yet it is a hate crime in those words, but it could have been done to stop the mosque," Thomas Suber, chief of the Solothurn Canton police, told CNN by phone.
Suber added that there were no suspects currently, but that a full investigation is underway after which suspects may be brought up on environmental pollution charges.
Veterinary health officials have been called in to find if pig's blood has in fact been spilled, and that charges may be filed over illegal dumping of animal parts in addition to other potential criminal charges, he added.
Despite the incident, Illi, the spokesman for Switzerland's Central Islamic Council, said the mosque project will go on.
"We can just wait for the next rain or snowfall to cleanse the ground, so we do not fear from this side anything," said Illi.
"But on the other hand it's an emotional thing, it means that there are actually people in this society who deny the right of Muslims when it comes to a mosque in Switzerland and this is something that hurts us."
According to Illi, Switzerland is home to an estimated 500,000 Muslims, out of a population of more than 7 million, most of whom are immigrants from Albania and elsewhere in the Balkans.
In 2009, the far-right party led a 57 percent of the voters’ approval on a proposal to ban the construction of mosque minarets nationwide.
The huge propaganda surrounding the voting, however, was regarded as a main cause of tarnishing the image of peaceful Muslims in the European country.
Related Links:Politics, Media Taint Swiss Muslim Image
Swiss Muslims Promote Understanding
Muslim Appeal on Swiss Minarets Rejected
Swiss Muslims Promote Understanding
Hijab Struggles in Swiss Basketball