Hong Kong’s leader and police have apologised to the local Islamic community for spraying the entrance to the city’s biggest mosque with blue solution from a water cannon on Sunday.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung visited the place of worship a day after anti-government protests erupted in Tsim Sha Tsui and neighbouring areas. They insisted the soaking at Kowloon Mosque was an accident, according to the community representatives.
Not everyone was convinced.
“I really believe it wasn’t an accident,” an 18-year-old student called Saqib from Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo) told Young Post. “I have seen some of the footage, and there weren’t many protesters near the mosque. Even if there were people,” he said, the police shouldn’t use water cannon without first seeing if there’s a need.
The water cannon’s blue dye is intended to make it easier to catch frontline protesters after a crowd disperses. Officers did not immediately offer an apology in a statement issued later that evening on Sunday.
“I accept the apology, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about the matter,” said Saqib. “I think it’s not part of the police’s job to spray water everywhere,” as the cannon might potentially injure innocent people.
For several days before the weekend, ethnic minority groups in Hong Kong were on edge, as fears grew of possible reprisals after protest leader Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit was attacked for a second time by men said to be of South Asian descent.
Saqib said he hadn’t been treated differently since the attack on the convenor of Civil Human Rights Front, and that he was proud of Hong Kong people for being understanding.
Alysha Bibi, an 18-year-old student at Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Siu Ming Catholic Secondary School, said that although the mosque incident was disappointing, she didn’t hold a grudge.
“They did apologise and I think that is what matters,” Alysha told Young Post. “Everyone makes mistakes and if they are willing to take up their responsibilities and apologise for their behaviour, that’s important.”
She added that she was happy to see volunteers from her community handing out water bottles and talking to protesters outside Chungking Mansions on Sunday.
“In these difficult times, people from different walks of life are making a concerted effort to help society,” Alysha said.