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A Severed Pig's Head Was Left Outside A Philadelphia Mosque

"It's worse now than it was after 9/11, which is really frightening," one mosque worker said of public anti-Islam sentiment.

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Updated on

Authorities have launched multiple investigations after a severed pig's head was tossed in front of a mosque and school in Philadelphia early Monday.

A caretaker discovered the head near the door of the Al Aqsa Islamic Society when he arrived for his 6 a.m. shift. It is unclear whether any students had yet arrived for school.

A surveillance camera caught a red pickup truck driving past the mosque and tossing something in front of the door at around 11 p.m. the night before, though the driver and passenger's faces were not visible, according to Philadelphia police.

The incident occurred almost one month after the mosque received a voicemail from a man saying "Are you happy about what happened in France? .... God is a pig! ... God is pork!" police added.

The caretaker who discovered the head, Nabil Ibrahim Khalil, told local media outlets that the caller had in fact used the name Allah in the message, and called him "a piece of pork shit," not just pork. Police said the mosque was able to use caller ID to retrieve the number.

In addition to Philadelphia police, the FBI and the Philadelphia Human Right's Commission are also looking into the incidents.

The mosque is in the same building as the Al Aqsa Islamic Academy, which serves students in kindergarten through 10th grade. The Al Aqsa Islamic Society did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.

"In a city that is welcoming to immigrants, in a city with great diversity, there is no place for this kind of behavior," Mark McDonald – press secretary for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter – told BuzzFeed News.

He added that the mayor publicly condemned the actions in a press conference Tuesday, in which he called the perpetrators "ignorant."

I have spoken at Al Aqsa Mosque many times in my tenure, & I have made it clear that there is no place for hate in Phila. Stop the violence!

Mayor-elect Jim Kenney released a statement echoing Nutter's statements that bigotry has "no place in Philadelphia."

"We cannot allow hate to divide us now, in the face of unprecedented difficulties," Kenney said. "I ask all Philadelphians to join me in rejecting this despicable act and supporting our Muslim neighbors."

Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, said in a statement that the incident could also be a violation of the city's ordinance on ethnic intimidation and institutional vandalism.

There has been an increase in anti-Muslim acts across the U.S. following November's deadly attacks in Paris, which killed at least 129 people.

"It's worse now than it was after 9/11, which is really frightening," Kahlil told Philly.com. "[9/11] was a horrible incident, but we didn't have this kind of reaction, nobody threw a pig's head. ... A pig's head doesn't do much. Could the next thing be a pipe bomb?"

CORRECTION

The mayor-elect of Philadelphia is Jim Kenney. A previous version of the article misstated his name.

Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Ema O'Connor at ema.oconnor@buzzfeed.com.

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