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.
Police are treating images of people dressed as Ku Klux Klan members in County Down at the weekend as a hate incident. This video shows men dressed in KKK costumes in a bar in the town. Full story here: https://t.co/x6EeDn2CzN pic.twitter.com/isuoLi3moh— BBC News NI (@BBCNewsNI) 29 октября 2018 г.
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.
This was Belfast at the weekend.— Crimes of Britain (@crimesofbrits) 29 октября 2018 г.
Those that made up the KKK were the direct descendants of the colonists ('Ulster Scots') in the north of Ireland. The same bigotry and racism found in Loyalism & Orangeism in Ireland is found within the ideology of the Klan. pic.twitter.com/0MGFeGu8kY
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.
Northern Ireland has turned into the wild west since the Brexit Vote. This Brexit means Brexit attitude will spark even more racism and sectarian behaviour.— Paul McG AFC ☘️© (@Afcpmg) 29 октября 2018 г.
Or please tell me they were all arrested for apparently belonging to a proscribed organisation.— Jill Collier (@JillCollier16) 29 октября 2018 г.
Rampant #Islamophobia in UK challenges the collective resolve to stand up to hate.— Neo (@deStreetMaster) 29 октября 2018 г.
There were some critics, however, who suggested that the gathering was in reality a Halloween party, while questioning its taste.
Halloween isn't it?— WULLY (@bigspender1690) 29 октября 2018 г.
I think there are more important issues the police need to attend to seriously like it's Halloween..did they do anybody any harm.— Belfast Citizen (@BelfastCitizen) 29 октября 2018 г.
Its a halloween incident FFS— Sam north (@Samnort51940238) 29 октября 2018 г.
Is the KKK a proscribed Organisation in the UK?
Yet we have REAL terrorists dressed in Paramilitary garb, openly parading on our streets, and the police does NOTHING
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.