BY PHILIP CAULFIELD
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
A drunken British man who stuffed ham inside Muslim worshipers’ shoes and draped meat outside a mosque as they prayed was spared a jail term because he apologized.
Jamie Knowlson, 30, pleaded guilty to racially or religiously aggravated harassment last month and was facing two years in jail for the drunken stunt.
A judge in Bristol, England, let him walk with a six-month suspended term last week because he apologized to mosque officials, The Telegraph reported.
“It is difficult to imagine a more offensive incident,” Bristol Royal Court Judge Carol Hagen said. “Not only the fixing of meat to railings, but aggravated, in my view, by the fact that members of the mosque were inside praying at the time.”
Prosecutors say Knowlson crept into the Al-Baseera mosque at 6:30 a.m. on January 9 and slipped slices of ham into worshipers’ empty shoes, which were lined up outside the prayer hall.
Knowlson also hung some slices on the railings outside the building, where some 2,000Somali Muslims pray each week, prosecutors said.
Djmaa said that Knowlson ranted that “the next visit will be harder” and made slurred threats about “bad meat” and “girls,” The Telegraph reported.
Islamic dietary restrictions forbid Muslims from eating pork.
Knowlson’s lawyer, Ian Halliday, said his client regretted the ham-handed prank.
“This was a brutal, misconceived, drunken prank. He returned to the mosque and offered his apologies in person,” Halliday said.
The judge also also sentenced Knowlson to 150 hours of community service.
After the verdict, mosque officials said worshipers were upset and shocked.
“We don’t eat pork and we are banned by our faith from eating it, as it makes us impure when we are going to our prayers,” said Mubarak Mohamud, an imam at the mosque.
“We don’t hate the man; we just suppose he doesn’t know us,” he said.