All snout and tail, the pink and brown pigs contentedly rooting in the wire pen behind Craig Baker's stone shop seem piggishly comic. They're racing pigs, after all, and that's got to be funny.
But few in the sprawling subdivisions along Baker Road are laughing.
These pigs are subtle weapons, here to show the new neighbors — the Katy Islamic Association — they aren't entirely welcome. Tension has been growing in this west Harris County community since September when the Muslim group announced it had purchased 11 acres south of Interstate 10 to build a mosque, school, community center and athletic facilities.
Hard feelings started when Baker met association officials, who, he said, advised him he should move his stone shop.
"They told me it was time for my family to pack up," said Baker, whose family has occupied its land since the early 1800s. "They said a mosque and a marble shop didn't go too good together."
Angered by the perceived insult and aware of Islamic dietary laws banning pork consumption, Baker responded by announcing he would stage weekly pig races on his Muslim neighbors' holiest day of prayer.
Well, the muslims say:
Really? Ah, let's not put it aside. We will see how this plays out. I plan on following this story because - well, because I want to. Expect some heavies to weigh in on this one.
"We came in with open arms ... ," he said. "There are so many good people in this area, we don't understand why we've gotten this treatment."
He added, "We're not about violence and terrorism. I can understand why people might be nervous. But come meet us. Let's put this petty pig business aside."