Mosque signs posted in anger after friend's loss

A MAN who posted two signs on the door of a proposed mosque at Maroochydore says he did it because he was upset a friend lost someone close to her in a Paris shooting earlier this year.

Richard Bitot taped a sign insulting the Prophet and another about Halal tax on a proposed Muslim place of worship in Church St in broad daylight on July 21.

The Yaroomba 64-year-old did not appear in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court yesterday to answer a charge of trespass but pleaded guilty in writing and was fined $1000.

Police prosector Sergeant Jamie Baker told the court police went to Bitot's address a few hours after the incident was captured on CCTV and he admitted what he had done was wrong and was remorseful for his actions.

In his letter to the court, Bitot apologised "most sincerely".

Afterwards, Bitot told the Daily that the signs were not intended as a racist attack.

"I'm not racist but I am opposed to the Islam religion," he said.

Bitot said a good friend of his in London had lost someone close to her when gunmen barged into the Paris office of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in January, killing 12 people in an attack for which the Yemen branch leader of Islamist extremist organisation al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.

"Every few weeks, she rings me up upset, and I get upset as well," he said.

Bitot said he had acted openly, approaching the mosque in the middle of the day, and had not expected to be charged.

"The main reason I did that, it was to annoy them. It's out of the way now but I have to suffer my fate," he said.

No conviction was recorded against Bitot but the supermarket worker was surprised at the size of the fine, saying he had been told by Legal Aid to expect a fine of $150-$250.

"That's two weeks' wages. I'm 64 and just about to retire at the end of the year. I'm going to Maroochydore tomorrow so I'll probably speak to Legal Aid about it."

Last month, two men who threw meat at the proposed mosque were fined $500 and placed on six month good behaviour bonds after each pleading guilty to a minor wilful damage charge.

The Muslim Organisation of the Sunshine Coast's application to establish a place of worship in Church St has been accompanied by controversy and the site has been the scene of two rowdy protests.

The officer-in-charge of Maroochydore police station, Senior Sergeant Gavin Marsh, said police had the option of using CCTV for monitoring and investigation in locations of concern or interest and had negotiated with the Muslim Organisation of the Sunshine Coast to install cameras at the premises.

"We don't do it on regular basis but I would do it as a matter of course in certain circumstances," Snr Sgt Marsh said.


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