Police intervene in battle of `offensive' china pigs

POLICE are understood to have confiscated a collection of porcelain pigs from the front window of a woman's house in the same road as Leicester's main mosque following a complaint from local Muslims that the display was offensive.

Nancy Bennett, a 49-year-old foster mother from the Highfields area of Leicester, said the complaint about the pigs was made after she went to the police to report harassment. She has alleged that she has been targeted by local youths since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, when she decorated her house with red, white and blue bunting. It is understood that the pigs were displayed alongside a quote from the Koran which said: "Let there be no coercion in religion."

A spokesman for Leicestershire Police said it was investigating the matter and that a file would be submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, which would take the final decision on whether to press charges under the Public Order Act.

Leicester Federation of Muslim Organisations spokes-man Yaqub Khan said that more than 1,000 worshippers attending weekly Friday prayers at the nearby mosque passed the collection of pigs. He said that Mrs Bennett was aware of the potential for offence to be caused - that the pig is mentioned as being "unclean" in the Koran, and is regarded as an offensive animal by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating it.

Mrs Bennett said: "I arrived home to find police about to break into my house. They had got a warrant. They said they had had complaints about the pigs from neighbours. They considered it was a public order matter and took about 17 of them. I have been told not to replace them. I am sure I am not the only person in Britain who collects ceramic pigs."

Mr Khan agreed that there were indeed other people who kept china pigs in their houses, to which Muslims have never objected.

"But if you display, for example, a poster in your front window and that poster is provocative to your neighbours then the poster is not private property just because it is in your house," he added.

"There are rules which, as good citizens, we have to observe. We are a multi-faith society and we, as Muslims, respect other faiths practised in this country, so I think, in return, they should respect ours. Something like this is taken very seriously by Muslims and it is a very sensitive area."

The quote from the Koran was also seen as provocative, Mr Khan said. "The Koran is a sacred book. If that is placed in a window where pigs have been placed then that is even more offensive. It may be a trivial matter for some sections of the community but it has to be dealt with."