Counter-terrorism police investigating 'Punish a Muslim Day' letters offering rewards for Islamophobic violence

Detectives launch hate crime probe after families across UK receive post urging attacks on Muslims

Chris Baynes
Saturday 10 March 2018 20:24 GMT
Police are investigating letters calling for a day of Islamophobic attacks
Police are investigating letters calling for a day of Islamophobic attacks (PA)

Counter-terrorism police have launched a hate crime investigation after letters urging people to carry out attacks on Muslims were posted across the country.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed it had received around six reports of letters advertising “Punish a Muslim Day”, while people in London and Birmingham said identical post had been delivered to their homes.

The letters promise “rewards” for violent acts ranging from verbal abuse of Muslims to burning or bombing mosques.

They detail a points-based scoring system, rising from 25 “points” for pulling the headscarf off a Muslim woman to 2,500 for “nuke Mecca”. The letters also encourage people to “torture” and “butcher” Muslims in a day of Islamophobic violence on 3 April.

West Yorkshire Police said it had obtained some of the letters for further analysis as the force investigates their origin.

A spokesman said: “Counter Terrorism Policing North East are coordinating the investigation at this time and will consider any potential links to existing enquiries.

“Anyone with any concerns about a communication they may have received should contact their local police force.”

A Bradford councillor was among the recipients of the letter, which he said had been posted to his business address.

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“When I opened it and saw the content I was horrified,” he told the Telegraph and Argus.

“I think it has been sent out by a group with the intent of alarming people and to stir up racial hatred.

“My main concern is that it could get into the hands of other disaffected people in Bradford who just need that push to act. Some people may look at is at a sick joke. I don’t.

“I am alarmed by its content, especially where it mentions acid because of all the recent reports in the media of acid attacks.”

He said the letter was not addressed to anyone and appeared to have been “sent out randomly”. It had been stamped at a sorting office in Sheffield.

Social media users in London and Birmingham also reported receiving the letters.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said it was not yet clear whether any criminal allegations relating to the letters had been reported in the capital.

Iman Atta, director of anti-Muslim hate monitoring service Tell MAMA, said: “This has caused quite a lot of fear within the community.

“They are asking if they are safe, if their children are safe to play outdoors. We have told them to keep calm, and to phone the police if they receive one of these letters.”

The organisation said it had received reports of the letters being sent to addresses in London, Yorkshire and the Midlands.

"We are working closely with the relevant police forces on this matter which is being treated with the utmost seriousness," it added.

Last year West Yorkshire Police launched a hate crime investigation after Muslim families in Bradford were sent letters threatening acid attacks and Islamophobic murders. The letters included an image of a sword and the St George’s flag beside the words “kill scum Muslims”.

In a separate campaign, mosques and Islamic centres received white powder and abusive letters as part of a "structured" transatlantic campaign.

The latest case came after police revealed four far-right terror plots and 10 Islamist plots have been foiled in the past year.

Muslims have been targeted in several violent attacks, including the Finsbury Park terror attack and car rammings in London and Leicester.

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