On March 10th, anonymous letters detailing a point system based on assault against Muslims were sent to families in East London. The points awarded increases incrementally as the assaults get more violent:
25 points for pulling off a woman’s head scarf
500 points for murdering a Muslim
1,000 points for bombing a mosque
According to the letters, this should take place on April 3, 2018 for “Punish a Muslim Day.” At least six other communities in England have received this letter as well. Residents of Birmingham, Cardiff, Leicester, London and Sheffield have also reported receiving letters of the sort, according to authorities and Tell Mama, an organization that monitors anti-Muslim activity.
In addition to this, several Muslim politicians have received suspicious packages since the letters were sent out. The latest among them was Sajid Javid, the Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government in Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet. Javid posted a photo of the letter sent to him on Twitter.
According to the police, the packages contained a low-level noxious substance, and it is being investigated. Other MPs who received parcels of the sort were Rupa Huq, Rushanara Ali and Mohammad Yasin. A package was received by Manchester Gorton MP, Afzal Khan, but was not opened.
The letters are currently being investigated by counter-terror police. The police said they had a couple of letters that will undergo analysis to determine their origins. However, Tell Mama believes that a photo of an envelope suggests that it was sent from a Sheffield sorting office.
The fact that the letters were sent to East London, a predominantly Muslim area, was extremely strange. Riaz Ahmed, a Liberal Democrat councilor in Bradford in West Yorkshire County reported that he received one at his business address. “It seems strange that anyone would send something like this to an address in a predominantly Muslim area,” Ahmed told The Mirror. “When I opened it and saw the content, I was horrified.”
This horror is shared by the Muslim community in England, and everywhere else. Hate crimes against Muslims have increased and havepeaked since the September 11 attacks. Hate crimes in England and Wales have doubled between 2013 and 2017. And the crimes motivated by religious intolerance have nearly quadrupled.
This and anti-immigrant sentiment have given rise to extremist organizations on the far-right. This is a phenomenon that is seen in Europe, and America. France has seen the rise of the National Front, a far-right political party, with Marie Le Pen as one of the candidates during the elections. Brexit was largely fueled by the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant views as well. The U.S has also seen the rise of the alt-right – an example was the Nazi rally in Charlottesville last summer where one protester lost her life.
If the current political climate is any indication, then the hate crimes and intolerance will continue to rise, and we must be vigilant in our efforts to combat it.