As 'Punish a Muslim' day looms, this is how the UK is preparing
- 26 March 2018
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Photo: Muslim women listen to Iive music during the Eid Festival in Trafalgar Square, London, Britain July 2, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls. Photo for illustration purpose only.
Two weeks ago, people across several communities in the UK received anonymous letters that declared April 3, 2018, as “Punish a Muslim” day. At least four Muslim members of Parliament were among the recipients, and their packages also included a noxious substance.
Reports of the letters first began to appear on March 9. The letters award arbitrary points to a series of hate crimes against Muslims, with higher points awarded to more violent acts. These range from verbally abusing a Muslim (10 points) to throwing acid on a Muslim’s face (50 points) to bombing a mosque (1000 points).
Punish a Muslim letter
As the UK police investigate the letters, British Muslims have been asked to stay vigilant on the day. Reactions from the UK and around the world have largely been of horror and disgust, and the letters were roundly condemned in the House of Commons. But one Muslim has taken it to a different level.
Shahab Adris’ counter-campaign declared April 3 as “Love a Muslim” day. His list of arbitrary points are awarded for acts ranging from smiling at a Muslim (10 points), to throwing flowers at a Muslim (50 points), to holding a fundraiser for the needy, “especially people suffering in Iraq, Libya, Kashmir, Yemen, Myanmar, Palestine, and Syria” (1000 points).
Love a Muslim letter
Meanwhile, the UK charity Tell Mama, which measures anti-Muslim attacks, has asked Muslims to “continue with your daily routines, but remain alert.” They offer a list of seven safety tips (see photo) that includes staying in well-lit, busy areas, and to call emergency services if needed.
Safety tips by Tell Mama, UK.
MEND, a not-for-profit organisation that works to encourage and empower British Muslims in the local communities, said in its statement about the campaign, “This letter appears to be symptomatic of the rise in Islamophobia we have witnessed in recent times … We call upon the Government to take Islamophobia as seriously as other forms of hate crime. We look forward to hearing more from the Police on their investigations into this deeply troubling letter.”
British Muslim Misbah Ameen-K, who lives in Birmingham with her family, says she only just learnt of the hate campaign through social media. She says, “My first reaction as a human being was that of disgust ... that human beings could be so misinformed and lacking in goodness. As a Muslim, my reaction is calmness because of my belief in God, who is our caretaker and no harm can come unless He wills it, and He always wills the best.” She says that her natural instinct is a tiny element of fear. “Particularly as I have young children. So yes, I might choose to stay indoors on the day, because there might be incidents and I don’t want to expose my family to them … Luckily, they’re home for Easter holidays on the day, but I might discuss it with my older son, who’s 13 ... just to clarify and make them feel confident in their identity.”
Using the hashtag #PunishaMuslimDay, several tweets express horror at the violence of the original anonymous hate mail.
“Punish a Muslim Day” is a manifestation of a public discourse that is allowed to run amok dehumanising Muslims. Our newspapers, press and politicians need to rapidly address this. I admit it: I’m scared to go outside. I’m terrified for my kids. Wouldn’t you be? #PunishAMuslimDay— Shelina Janmohamed (@loveinheadscarf) 11 March 2018
My little sister just came to me and told me not to go out on the 3rd of April cause it's gonna be #PunishAMuslimDay a 9 year old should not have to know these things. This is the state of islamphobia in modern Britain.— TheIceColdPrince?????? (@Abuwajehsidiqi) 18 March 2018
Our Co-Chair @wesstreeting today challenged those that are complicit in fanning the flames of prejudice.— British Muslims (@APPGBritMuslims) 12 March 2018
He also called for more support to be given to local Muslim communities in relation to the #PunishAMuslimDay letters. pic.twitter.com/SrkXWsdaJI
The police are taking the #PunishAMuslimDay leaflet seriously but so little coverage on the media which is disappointing— Mohammed Shafiq (@mshafiquk) 10 March 2018
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