Four people who posted comments in response to an article on the Bridgwater Mercury’s Facebook page could face prosecution.
A police investigation is underway into certain remarks made on September 24 soon after an article about the Bridgwater mosque obtaining a council grant appeared. Avon and Somerset Police say this is a rare course of action as the force has only made very few prosecutions for social media posts.
The four individuals have been traced from their Facebook accounts and been taken to Bridgwater police station for questioning. Police are now taking advice on whether to charge them.
A number of offenders in other areas have been jailed for racially abusive remarks made on social media.
The police told the Mercury: “As a result of enquiries, four suspects have been identified in relation to this incident. We are now in the process of seeking charging advice from the Crown Prosecution Service with regard to this matter. We have a zero tolerance approach to any incident of racial hatred, and we continue to support the mosque and the wider community.”
The article attracted more than 145 comments with many people reacting in shock at some of the criticism directed at the mosque. One such comment read: “I can’t believe this many ill informed and uneducated people are living just up the road from me. Churches got the grants as well, and the majority of Muslims in this country DO pay their taxes and so have every right to have a place where they can worship.”
The Friarn Street building was bought at auction in June and the aim is to refurbish it at a cost of £100,000.
Bridgwater Islamic Centre and Mosque also received a £2,500 grant from Sedgemoor District Council toward the plans. Other religious groups also received the maximum funding the committee can award with Cannington United Reformed Church given £2,500 to replace its heating boiler and Holy Cross Church in Middlezoy receiving £2,500 to help with the second phase of improvements in the church to allow greater public use.