Hong Kong leader apologises after mosque hit by police water cannon
HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam apologised to the city's Muslim community yesterday after police fired a water cannon at a major mosque during operations on Sunday night to quell violent pro-democracy protests.
While the morning-after clean up was underway, Mrs Lam visited the mosque in Kowloon district, her head covered by a shawl, to express her sorrow to Islamic leaders over the incident.
She was due to depart for Japan to attend Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony, and a government statement released later said Mrs Lam thanked Islamic leaders for repeatedly calling for calm during the turmoil that has gripped the city in the past five months.
During running battles in Kowloon on Sunday, police used tear gas and water cannon trucks to disperse petrol bomb-throwing protesters, spraying jets of blue dye into the crowds.
In one instance, a cannon drenched the front gate and footpath in front of the Kowloon mosque, Hong Kong's most important Islamic place of worship, where a few people had gathered including journalists.
Blue stains from the dyed water remained on the road in front as worshippers gathered for prayers yesterday.
Protesters had said they would not target the mosque in Sunday's march after a leading pro-democracy leader was brutally attacked last week by masked men that police said were "non-Chinese".
Some non-Chinese residents have been recruited in the past by triads to attack individuals.
In the government statement, Mrs Lam said the Muslim community called Hong Kong home and co-existed peacefully with other communities.
Chief Imam Muhammad Arshad said Mrs Lam's apology was "accepted".
Police said the mosque had been accidentally sprayed and that they "respect religious freedom and will strive to protect all places of worship". - REUTERS