Northern Ireland news

Police investigating as hate crime people in 'Ku Klux Klan costumes' at Islamic prayer house

Police are investigating the reports of people dressing as Ku Klux Klan members in Newtownards as a hate incident
Michael McHugh, Press Association

REPORTS that a group of people dressed as Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members posed outside an Islamic prayer house are being investigated as a hate incident, police have said.

Images circulating on social media purport to show individuals dressed as members of the far-right group in Newtownards, Co Down over the weekend.

In August last year a pig's head was placed outside the same centre and grafitti was daubed on the building.

The KKK was a group based mainly in the southern United States which opposed civil rights for African Americans and was responsible for lynchings and mob attacks on black people.

Members are infamous for their white robes with tall hoods hiding their faces.

PSNI inspector Richard Murray said: "We received a report around 5pm yesterday, Sunday 28 October, about a group of people dressed as KKK members in the vicinity of Greenwell Street in the town on Saturday night.

"We are also aware of images that are circulating that show people dressed as Ku Klux Klan members.

"Our inquiries are ongoing, and we are treating this as a hate incident at this time."

He added: "Hate crime, in all its forms, is totally unacceptable.

"It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that we live in a society where diversity is respected."

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Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong said the group drank in a local bar with their masks off and CCTV evidence could be available.

She said: "Everyone knows exactly what the KKK stands for.

"The KKK represents a brand of hatred not wanted or welcome in the area.

"This group did not simply dress up for Halloween, rather they deliberately posed outside the prayer house in Newtownards.

"This is a clear demonstration of aggression and bullying towards one particular religion and that is a hate crime."

DUP MLA Peter Weir also described the appearance of people dressed as KKK members as "totally unacceptable".

"The Klu Klux Klan is a deeply repugnant racist organisation and anyone happy to associate themselves with such a vile body is clearly a moron. That such a large group of people took the time and the effort to get their costumes completely correct, and above all the fact that they chose to pose outside the Islamic Prayer Centre in Newtownards, takes this episode of stupidity to a more sinister connotation," he said.

"There are very good community relations in Newtownards, with a sense of friendship to all and neighbourliness. All communities are welcome within the town, and everyone should have a right to live free from intimidation and harassment. Local people will completely reject this sort of behaviour and stand against it."


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