Birmingham & Black Country

Pig heads dumped outside Solihull 'mosque'

Pigs Heads Image copyright BBC Sport
Image caption Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime

Pig heads have been dumped outside an old ambulance station after it was claimed the building was being illegally used as a mosque.

Solihull council is investigating whether the community centre is being used for regular worship, which could break planning laws.

A carrier bag believed to have been used to carry the meat is being examined by forensic experts.

The incident on Sunday night is being treated as a hate crime, police said.

CCTV footage appears to show a man putting a package on the centre's doorstep before driving away, according to West Midlands Police.

"We've secured good quality CCTV of the culprits and my detectives are making good progress with the investigation. The forensic evidence we have is also very strong and we expect a result from that in the coming days," Ch Supt Alex Murray said.

Windows on the same building, on Hermitage Road, were also damaged on the previous evening.

Analysis by Peter Wilson, BBC Midlands Today special correspondent

Why are people dumping pigs heads outside buildings in 2015?

At first glance it seems almost medieval, but talking to police contacts it is not unusual and is often linked to long running disputes over planning issues and simple car parking problems.

All of these issues play a part in the controversy over the Solihull Community Hub, which only opened last week.

Up to 400 people attended the Islamic event featuring a moderate Muslim scholar, but local residents found roads jammed and their driveways blocked as the community centre only has spaces for 40 cars.

It is claimed by some that the community centre is really a mosque and breaches the original planning application, something strongly denied by the owners.

They are planning a charity open day in the coming weeks so that people from across Solihull can visit the site and see what goes on there for themselves.

Some local residents have described the atmosphere in the town as tense.

"I've been living in Solihull for 10 to 15 years now and it's never been as frightening to live in this area as a Muslim as it is now," local resident Mohammed Abdullah said.

Local imam Dr Issam Ghannam, however, said community relations in the town were very good and described it an isolated incident, but said the actions of "a minority" were a "threat to the community".

The council launched its own inquiry after residents claimed they had not been consulted about the building "becoming a mosque".

In April 2014, the council granted permission to change its use from an ambulance station into a training and conference centre.

More than 3,000 people have so far signed an online petition against its use for worship.

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