Two Polish nationals living in London will each receive 16 months behind bars for throwing slabs of bacon inside a Camden mosque and at worshipers, BuzzFeed News reported.
Piotr Czak-Zukowski, 28, and Mateusz Pawlikowski, 22, were found guilty of lobbing pieces of raw bacon at people entering the al-Rahman Mosque and Community Center in Camden. The men also entered the mosque, scattering bacon across the floor of the prayer room. One man even placed bacon inside a mosque attendee’s shoe.
According to the Camden New Journal, a witness described the incident which occurred during evening prayers in early October. Helal Ahmed reportedly said, “Two people came inside, both were acting strange. I saw one person was filming, but I didn’t’ see what they were doing at this point… When he saw me, he threw a piece of pork meat, but luckily it dropped one-and-a-half feet [in front of me].”
Another member of the al-Rahman Mosque, who had been attending it for eight years, said, “It’s unbelievable… It’s the first time this happened in this mosque.”
Czak-Zukowski and Pawlikowski were picked up by police officers within several minutes after the incident, thanks to a swift emergency call from a witness. The police helped clean up the mess inside the center and stayed there until 6 a.m. the following morning.
Both men were charged on two criminal accounts for the hate crime, receiving eight months in jail for criminal damages and eight months for a racial or religiously-motivated offense.
While it’s not necessarily rational to peg the rise of hate crimes onto one particular person or event, official data from the British government has shown that reports of racial and religious abuse have increased by 41 percent in England and Wales since Brexit. Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, has previously said, “There seems to be an impression that those involved in this sort of behavior have permission to behave this way.”
In a press release, Camden police officer Tracey McMath said, “The defendants showed a complete disregard for the faith and belief of others in this callous and highly offensive incident, and I hope their convictions highlight that we will not tolerate hate crime in any of its forms.”
The defacement of a religious community’s so-called safe space certainly warrants a due penalty, though some on social media argued that the jail time was too severe. Yet, sixteen months in prison for both culprits demonstrates how London’s legal system offers little tolerance for race and religious-based hate crimes.
Banner photo: Twitter, @standardnews