Early morning prayers were interrupted at a Philadelphia Islamic center on Monday when a severed pig's head was discovered outside the building.
A worker discovered the head, which has been used in the past as a symbol of Muslim hatred, around 6 a.m. on Monday at the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society.
Authorities who watched surveillance footage from the scene say a truck passed the center twice Sunday night. On its second pass, the pig head can be seen being tossed from the passenger side of the vehicle. The occupants of the truck cannot be seen in the footage.
Officials from the center, which is in the same building as an Islamic school and business development center, said the pig itself worries them less than the prospect of violent attacks against the center.
“It’s just a pig’s head — that’s not a big deal; but it does send a message,” mosque spokesman Marwan Kreidie told the Washington Post. “I think people are worried that if they do a pig’s head, they could do something more violent in the future.”
While mosque officials are calling this a "hate motivated" act, authorities in Philadelphia have yet to qualify it as such.
“As of now, it’s under investigation with an unknown motive," a Philadelphia police spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the city's mayor-elect Jim Kenney called the act a "desecration" in a statement posted to his website on Monday.
“The bigotry that desecrated Al-Aqsa mosque today has no place in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has a long history of coming together in the face of challenge. We cannot allow hate to divide us now, in the face of unprecedented difficulties. I ask all Philadelphians to join me in rejecting this despicable act and supporting our Muslim neighbors.”