This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Pig's head dumped at Thurnby Lodge centre used for prayers by Muslims
A pig's head has been left at the doors of a community centre used as a Muslim place of worship.
Thurnby Lodge Community Centre, in Leicester, is used for prayers by Muslim group As Salaam.
In recent months, the centre has become the focus of a row over the group's desire to pray instead at a neighbouring disused Scout hut, owned by Leicester City Council.
Muslims going to and from prayers at the centre have had to walk past protesters who say the Scout hut should be for wider community use.
At 7.30am on Wednesday, Muslims who arrived to unlock the community centre in Thurncourt Road found a pig's head by the automatic front door.
Muslims are forbidden from eating pork and many consider pigs to be unclean animals, and leaving a pig's head at the doors is an insulting gesture to Muslims.
Police are investigating who is behind the incident.
Moulana Mohammed Lockhat, the Imam for the As Salaam group, said the act had only made members more determined to continue to pray as normal.
He said: "We arrived to open up the centre for prayers and found the pig's head. It had probably come from a butcher's.
"I was deeply saddened by this development. It was clearly an act of deep, religious discrimination against us.
"But that doesn't mean it's going to stop us from praying in the building.
"We still had our prayers on Wednesday morning and putting a pig's head outside isn't going to change things, except maybe make us more determined than ever to carry on."
The prayer group called the police who took the pig's head away.
A 23-year-old Muslim, who attends evening prayers every day at the centre, said: "It's a highly charged atmosphere at Thurnby Lodge at the moment and this was a very provocative act.
"Muslims are prohibited from eating pigs and whoever did this obviously knew that and were setting out to be offensive and make fun of something very serious to us.
"For me, it's mainly the insult but some Muslims are extremely sensitive about the cleanliness of a pig's head."
The protesters trying to stop the Muslim group using the Scout hut, in Nursery Road, are arguing that it should be for everyone and not just Muslims.
Superintendent Mark Newcombe said: "The only people using the community centre on Wednesday were from a local Muslim group and it's easy to draw the conclusion that the pig's head was meant for them, and is the reason we believe this to be religiously motivated.
"We have no tolerance for discrimination in Leicester, be that racially or religiously motivated, and we want members of the public to help us do all we can to find those responsible and bring them to justice."
Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to contact police on 101.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, which is anonymous, on 0800 555 111.