As a 34 year old British Asian woman from a Muslim household in Bradford, I am sad to report on the first ever race hate incident that I have personally experienced.
Two weeks ago four pig heads were placed in my garden. I am not scared by this pathetic attempt to offend me because of the religion I was born into. As Muslims, we are not supposed to eat pork.
Those dead pigs in my garden only offended my nose and good sense of hygiene. For the record my family loves Peppa Pig, we just wouldn’t eat her.
On Friday 14 June, my family woke up to go to work and initially discovered two decomposing, maggot infested, gut wrenchingly awful smelling pig heads placed in our garden. One by our front door, and one by our back door.
On reporting the incident to the police, we were asked to preserve the heads as they may be able to send them to forensics.
The police, although sympathetic have not been very helpful. They told us it was an isolated incident, they had no record of this happening anywhere else in our area and have not seen a rise in racist attacks in Bradford “post-Woolwich“.
On searching our garden the police found two further pig heads dumped in our bushes in carrier bags. They were so badly decomposed, they had to call for back up before certifying they were indeed pig heads and not human!
We were then informed that it would be our responsibility to dispose of the pig heads. As for us having to preserve them; and led to believe the police would be taking them away, we were told (paraphrasing):
“I don’t know who was watching CSI at the time but there’s nothing we can do about taking them away, and this isn’t classed as a crime, it’s a hate incident, and we just don’t have the resources to take them and send them back and await results of DNA tests, they are so decomposed I don’t even think we can get any testing done.”
With it being the weekend, the council offices were closed. We did not want the pigs decomposing on our property any longer and were advised to burn them.
The best thing the police did for us was bag up the four heads. They said they will patrol our area for the next few weeks and would ask our neighbours if they have had any trouble.
My father then purchased an incinerator and we carried out an extensive clean up operation in our garden.
The fact it had only happened to our house made us question whether this was a race attack or if someone had a grudge against us.
I started to question myself and look at every person on my commute to work with suspicion. I asked my family if they had had any disputes lately and we did initially feel slightly threatened because, we are not especially devout Muslims. I even considered the attack could be from other Muslims, either trying to cause a reaction or make a point about my family “trying to be white”.
To look at us, even Nick Robinson would struggle to describe us as being “of Muslim appearance”.
My family have lived in Bradford for over 60 years, my dad was born here, he doesn’t have a beard, my sisters, my mother and myself don’t wear headscarves. We dress on UK trend, we go out, we work, we pay taxes, we commute, we live, love and enjoy our free British lifestyle…but we are not white. We respect our Pakistani heritage and our Muslim values, which are no different to common decency values of other religions and non-religions.
As a Muslim family in Britain, I don’t think you can be more socially cohesive, integrated and assimilated into a British way of life than we are. And we are certainly not the only ones. And even if we were more devout, it still does not excuse the fact some idiot feels that throwing a dead animal at Muslims is some kind of honourable way to react to the murder of a British soldier.
So why would we be the first target in all of Bradford for a racist to express his hatred of Muslims after the crime two evil murderers committed against one of our soldiers?
It made no sense to us at all, we had doubts about it being a racist attack and kept an open mind.
One of the first lessons this incident has taught us is that burning pig heads is the WORST thing anyone can do. Pig heads are indestructible!
My poor dad was dousing them in petrol every day, fat would be oozing out the holes of the incinerator and he would tell us how those snouts were still looking up at him! When he tried breaking up the ash, he could still see maggots feasting and clinging to every ounce of flesh!
After 11 days of enduring the stench of burning pig fat, my dad finally saw one of our Asian neighbours and asked if he had heard about our incident from the police.
Our neighbour was horrified, he had not heard from the police about our incident, and we were then shocked to hear that he too had received a pig’s head in his garden, two weeks prior to us, and he’d reported the incident to the same police station.
So we were not alone. There was no doubt now this was a racist attack. This could be happening across Bradford, but the police are not telling us.
I do think it’s more to do with a lack of resource and understanding of being on the receiving end of this kind of incident. Not only have the police been slow to speak to our neighbours, they were clueless on how to advise us on how to dispose of the heads.
I’m disappointed with the police’s systemic reaction to this level of racial harassment. The officers were sympathetic, but they clearly have a lack of resources to do anything. This type of attack falls way below their list of priorities.
But in the meantime a lot of stress, anger, bad smells, bad advice, time, money and energy has been spent cleaning up after a stupid racist.
I don’t blame any of the officers, I blame the systems they are being forced to work to.
Once I found out it had previously happened to my neighbour, I felt a huge sense of relief, that we hadn’t been targeted or had someone with a personal grudge after us! I can’t convey that sense of relief enough.
As daft as it sounds, I feel much better knowing it was plain old simple racism! Racism I can handle. I understand it and I can now say I have truly experienced it and not imagined an institutionalised under-current of it.
This incident has caused myself and my family to question ourselves and our place in Britain.
It’s made us realise that no matter how integrated into society we are, to some small minded minorities, we will never be accepted as British because we are not white. The fact that we are Muslims should not put all Muslims into the same box as terrorists, murderers, grooming gangs and nut job trouble makers like Anjem Choudary and Abu Hamza.
They belong in one box of hate…along with hate preaching fools hiding behind the EDL/BNP/UKIP brands telling us what’s right for Britain.
The reason that I have decided to tell this story is to show the racist we are not scared or offended because all Muslims are different. They can’t put us all in one box and presume all Muslims are scared of pigs!
I’d like the police to understand that admitting it could have been racism and that others are going through it is better than being told it’s an isolated case when they have not checked.
I contacted an organisation called Tell MAMA UK (Measuring Anti Muslim Attacks) who can support people who have become victims of these kind of attacks.
And I’d like other people to report these incidents if they occur and not be afraid to speak out. The more incidents that get logged, and acknowledged the more likely the police can start to take them seriously.
- Half of Britain’s mosques have been attacked since 9/11 (independent.co.uk)
- AUDIO: Pigs heads left outside Muslim home (bbc.co.uk)
- Police to review Bradford pig’s head ‘hate crime’ case (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
- Sexual abuse in the white community (guardian.co.uk)
- Bradford MP visits local Muslim resident who has pigs heads thrown into her garden as part of a suspected hate crime (davidward.org.uk)