Published on :
Muslim students denounce Islamophobic acts perpetrated by opponents of a mosque project in Daegu, South Korea’s third largest city. Images published online or transmitted to our editorial staff show, among other things, signs with hateful remarks towards Islam as well as pigs’ heads placed in front of the mosque under construction.
Thursday, December 15, the “Daegu Anti-Mosque Committee” organized a large pork barbecue, just a few meters from a mosque under construction, in a neighborhood where dozens of Muslim students from Kyungpook University nearby.
The pork BBQ party has started in front of the mosque construction site in Daegu’s Daehyeon-dong. Pig heads are on display, and a whole pork roast is being cooked. The meat is being carved and distributed to locals for lunch. pic.twitter.com/DmUP7xTWEM
— Raphael Rashid (@koryodynasty) December 15, 2022
A few days earlier, on December 6, a pig’s head had been placed on a chair in the same place. It was the third time in two months that foreign Muslim students had encountered the gruesome facility – a dubious reference to Islam’s pork ban.
Since 2014, Muslim students had gathered in a two-storey house that served as a cultural and religious center. At the end of 2020, they obtained the administrative green light to transform this center into a real mosque. But since then, they have faced opposition from a neighborhood group that regularly demonstrates to block the work.
These demonstrations have repeatedly taken an Islamophobic turn, as evidenced by several videos and photos sent to our editorial staff by one of the students.
“They put the music very loud during our prayer time”
Muaz Razaq left Pakistan in 2019 for Kyungpook University in Daegu, which he says is attended by around 100 Muslim students. He claims that relations with neighbors were quite good before construction of the mosque began.
At the beginning, some of us were called terrorists when we met the demonstrators. They covered the site with anti-Islam placards and distributed flyers with Islamophobic messages in the streets. Things calmed down a bit after the South Korean human rights commission found this mode of protest discriminatory [en octobre 2021, NDLR].
But in recent months, opponents of the mosque project have started to play very loud music several times during our prayer time, or to place these pigs’ heads in front of the mosque.
For about two months, three pigs’ heads have been placed in front of the gate.
The students who fell on the pigs’ heads were shocked. It’s not just because it’s a pig’s head, it could have been any animal, apart from the religious dimension, it’s quite violent to find yourself face to face with that, to put that in front of your home. someone.
Opponents have argued in the Korean press that it is a tradition, but why are they doing it in front of the mosque? And if it’s such a widespread tradition, how come I haven’t seen it in the three years I’ve been living in South Korea?
A shamanic ritual that uses a pig’s head does indeed exist in Korea, but to inaugurate new businesses. Several residents interviewed by the Korean press rejected any accusation of Islamophobia, saying they simply do not want to see a religious building in the heart of their neighborhood because it would threaten their privacy because of the traffic and the noise generated. A neighbor explains au Korea Time that she would also have opposed the project if it were a church. But for Muaz Razaq, it is well, a problem of religion:
Even though they say it’s not Islamophobia, their actions speak for themselves. Why then don’t they say anything about the huge church next door? They also complain a lot about the smell and the noise, [notamment pendant les fêtes religieuses musulmanes, NDLR]. But precisely, having a finished and modern mosque, unlike what we have today, would make it possible to change all that.
“Before there was any question of a mosque, we had good relations with the neighbours”
After several legal proceedings brought by the residents to stop the construction, the case went all the way to the South Korean Supreme Court, who ruled in favor of the construction of the mosque in September 2022. But the conflict is far from settled and Muaz Razaq has little hope of a return to dialogue.
We really tried everything, but from the moment it became more violent, especially vis-à-vis our religion, the dialogue was broken. It’s hard to talk to them because they just want us to get out of there. For now, the district office [qui fait la médiation entre les étuidants musulmans et les résidents] tries to find an equivalent alternative place.
In South Korea, the case feeds the “multiculturalism” debate in a still conservative society. The city of Daegu, located in the center of the country, is also less exposed to other cultures than the capital Seoul. Despite this complicated situation in Daegu, Muaz Razaq says he has not experienced any other difficulties as a Muslim in South Korea.
Before there was any question of the mosque, we even had a good relationship with the neighbours, and I was not discriminated against with regard to my religion. I don’t want to generalize and I have also met a lot of very tolerant people in this country. I think some political and religious parties are just encouraging a sense of fear in our neighbors.
In 2022, 200,000 Muslims lived in South Koreathe majority of foreign nationality, which represents less than one percent of the population, compared to approximately 30% Christians and 17% Buddhist in 2021. The country has around ten mosques and cultural centers to welcome the faithful, in particular the Seoul Grand Mosque, built in 1976.