21:54 GMT27 October 2020
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    While some people, including police, have indicated that what happened in Newtownards could be a hate incident, others suggest that the gathering of people wearing KKK robes was little more than an un-PC Halloween party.

    Photos and video footage showing a group of people dressed in infamous Ku Klux Klan outfits outside an Islamic center in Northern Ireland are doing the rounds on social media. BBC has obtained footage showing men wearing KKK costumes in a JD Wetherspoon pub.

    Another picture shows eight people posing in white robes and hoods and carrying crosses with their fists raised in the air. It was reportedly taken right outside the Bangladesh Islamic Community Center in the town of Newtownards in Northern Ireland.

    It emerged on Monday that police are investigating the incident as a hate crime. "Our enquiries are ongoing, and we are treating this as a hate incident at this time," Inspector Richard Murray said, as quoted by The Irish Times. "Hate crime, in all its forms, is totally unacceptable. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that we live in a society where diversity is respected."

    His statement was echoed by a handful of internet users, with some blaming growing xenophobic sentiment on Brexit.

    There were some critics, however, who suggested that the gathering was in reality a Halloween party, while questioning its taste.


    According to the Belfast Telegraph, this isn't the first time the Islamic Center has been targeted in a purported hate incident. In August 2017, a pig's head was left at the door of the center and graffiti painted on the building, drawing condemnation from human rights activists such as Amnesty International.


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    Hate Crime, rally, Islamophobia, KKK, Newtownards, Northern Ireland
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