ong Kong government officials have made their apologies after police coated one of the city’s mosques with noxious blue dye during protests on Sunday.
Cell phone footage shows a police vehicle rolling up to the Kowloon Mosque on Nathan Road at around 4 pm on Sunday afternoon and letting loose with its blue-dye water cannon, targeting a small group of people standing outside the mosque gates.
The sidewalk and parts of the mosque itself are left covered in blue while those hit by the spray cough and gag. The dye is designed to quickly disperse crowds and is mixed with an irritant.
Kowloon Mosque dyed blue by police water cannon. Only legislator Jeffrey Tam and staff from the Islamic Centre was at the gate.
— Denise Ho (HOCC)💪🏿😷 (@hoccgoomusic) October 20, 2019
This is the moment the Hong Kong Police Force fired the water cannon at Kowloon Mosque.
The water cannon is only supposed to be used to disperse large crowds. But apart from those worshipping/a few people guarding the mosque, there was no one there. #HongKongProtests pic.twitter.com/sXEEAV7GLK
— J P (@hyjpang) October 20, 2019
Police called the incident an “accident,” saying that it was “most unfortunate” and that the impact on the mosque had been “unintended.”
On Monday, both Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam and police commissioner Stephen Lo paid a visit to the mosque to say sorry to the city’s Muslim leaders.
The incident has been cast by protesters as yet another example of Hong Kong police brutality, questioning why it was necessary to suddenly spray a small group of people who were not doing anything violent or offensive.
Confusingly, at a press conference on Monday, Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau Superintendent Swalikh Mohammed said that, in fact, the goal of the deployment had been to protect the mosque.
“The purpose of police operation was to disperse a crowd that was very dangerous and there was also some information that some people might damage the mosque,” Mohammed said. “So the police operation and objective was clear, to do the dispersal and also to protect the mosque.”
Police have also faced criticism in how they made their apologies with one female representative entering the mosque wearing a polo shirt and without covering her hair while officers failed to take off their shoes.
1. Women step into Mosque without cover hair.
2. All cops step into Mosque with your own shoes.
— Kong Lam (@KongLam01076) October 20, 2019
Meanwhile, protesters have earned more good press by helping to clean up the blue mess that police left behind. The blue coating is now largely gone.
Protesters are cleaning up Kowloon Mosque. They are more responsible than Hong Kong police. pic.twitter.com/olgaqG2RCf
— JW (@thejediwalker) October 20, 2019