A group dressed as members of the Ku Klux Klan photographed themselves outside an Islamic centre in Northern Ireland on Sunday evening.
The incident, which took place near the Bangladesh Islamic Community Centre in Newtownards, sparked anger and condemnation after the images spread on social media.
One image shows eight individuals posing with their faces covered and their fists raised in the air, while another appears to have captured the group from behind as they walked up the street.
In response to the incident, DUP MP Jim Shannon told The Independent, “This behaviour must be outrightly condemned. It was in complete bad taste and was not funny nor entertaining.
“The police have confirmed that they are treating this as a hate crime and rightly so. Nobody within our community should live in fear or intimidation from a group of people who through this action have offered nothing but that.
“The Muslim community are contributing much to society in Northern Ireland. Everyone has the right to live here. I would ask the public to bring information forward to the police.”
The photos were also called “unacceptable” and “disgusting” by Kellie Armstrong, an Alliance MLA for the Strangford area.
“Everyone knows the history of the Ku Klux Klan,” she told the Belfast Telegraph, “what they stood for, the crimes the organisation committed and the connotations these outfits convey. This was not a mistake or an unfortunate choice of outfits.
“It is not appreciated by our community, it is not funny and it should definitely not be treated as a joke.”
The PSNI said the group’s presence in the area was reported to them after 5pm on Sunday evening, and that they are treating this incident as a hate crime.
In a statement, Inspector Richard Murray said, “We are also aware of images that are circulating that show people dressed as Ku Klux Klan members. Read more
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