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South Korea: Daegu residents roast a whole pig to protest the construction of a mosque, tension escalates after local assaulted by Pakistani student

The locals of Daegu's Daehyeon-dong had tried to oppose the construction of the mosque by all legal means. After the court allowed the mosque, they have now taken the matter into their own hands and have been protesting against the mosque by placing pig's head, holding pork barbeque or sometimes by putting up banners against Islam.

The residents of Daehyeon-dong in South Korea’s Daegu have been protesting against the construction of a mosque in the locality by some Muslim migrants. As per a report in Korea Herald, on 15 December, the locals gathered to celebrate a party and roasted a pig at the proposed mosque construction site.

As per reports, the Daehyeon-dong locality has some Muslim community members living in the country and the proposed mosque is vehemently opposed by the local Koreans. They have formed a ‘Daegu anti-mosque committee.’

Photographs from the barbeque party shared on social media showed a pig’s head displayed on a small table, and the pig being roasted by enthusiastic residents who were seen enjoying many pork dishes at the open-air party.

On the same day when they roasted a whole pig at the mosque site, the local Koreans held a press conference near the West gate of the Kyungpook National University, stating that a local resident has been assaulted by a Pakistani student of the university.

“The Pakistani student was charged with a summary offence for shoving the arm of a resident of Daehyeon-dong who tried to remove the construction owner’s tent,” the committee announced. A summary offence is when the judge imposes a fine for light offences without a formal trial.

The same Daegu anti-mosque committee members had in October protested against the mosque construction by placing the severed head of a dead pig at the mosque construction site.

The locals said that the assault by the Pakistani student will not be treated lightly. They then proceeded to celebrate a year-end party and roasted a whole pig near the mosque construction site. To maintain law and order and prevent clashes, the Daegu Northern District Police Station has deployed personnel from an emergency team on standby near the construction site, as reported by Korea Herald.

The conflict between immigrant Muslims and local Koreans in Daehyeon-dong

The conflict between the local Koreans and Muslims in the are has been going on for years. Reportedly a small Muslim community that lives in the are has been holding prayers in a local building since 2014. But in 2020, a group of 6 Muslims (from Pakistan and Bangladesh) purchased a plot in the same neighbourhood. In December of that year, they secured permission from local authorities to construct a 20-meter-long mosque.

The immigrant Muslims argued that the previous house, which was used for prayer, could ‘only’ accommodate 150 worshippers at one time and lacked a cooling system and floor heating.

The Korean neighbours, who put up with the loud noise and overcrowding in the alley caused due to Namaz for years, opposed the construction of the mosque tooth and nail. The locals fear that the mosque will mean sudden influx of Muslims in the area and will lead to congestion and discomfort due to parking and crowd.

After granting permission for the mosque construction in December 2020, the district administration was bombarded with complaints from the Koreans. Under pressure from all sides, the officials revoked their approval in February 2021.

The construction work took a hit for some time. The happiness of the local Korean community was short-lived as the Muslim ‘landlords’ won the case in court in December 2021. To add salt to the wound, the top court upheld the decision of the lower court in September this year.

Appeals made to district officials to ‘relocate’ the mosque have also failed to bring favourable outcomes. Finally, the locals have taken it upon themselves to physically obstruct the construction of the mosque.

Several banners have also propped up in the neighbourhood. “Islam is an evil religion that kills people,” read one poster. Another poster read, “We strongly oppose the construction of an Islamic mosque.” Others included ‘Korean People Come First’, ‘a den of terrorists’ and so on.

Controversial poster surfaces in the neighbourhood, image via Muaz Razaq/ The Korean Herald

The locals sometimes block the entrance to the site with parked vehicles, sometimes they even put severed heads of pigs.

Pigs are considered dirty in Islam and the consumption of pork is haram.

Despite the opposition from the locals, the construction of the mosque has been almost complete. It is expected to be operational by the end of 2022.

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