By now, Brent Matthews should realize that it what he did was no joke.

The Lewiston man charged with rolling a frozen pig’s head into a mosque during prayers faces a misdemeanor charged filed by the Androscoggin County district attorney for desecrating a place of worship.

That has now been followed by a civil action by the Maine attorney general that would enjoin him from any future contact with the mosque and expose him to criminal penalties for future violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act.

He also could be charged with a federal hate crime, if U.S. Attorney Paula Silsby decides that federal prosecution is warranted.

Matthews’ lawyer, James Howaniec, expressed frustration Thursday, claiming that in 20 years as a lawyer he had never seen “three prosecutors’ offices attempting to get their hands on a misdemeanor charge like they have in this case.”

Howaniec should not be so surprised. At a time when religious violence is taking lives around the world, state and federal officials should leave no one with the impression that this blatant insult to worhipers in a mosque is something to snicker at.


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