'Punish a Muslim day' letters: London police urge communities to unite against threats

Muslims have been advised to "unite" and "carry on as normal" after vile letters were sent encouraging a "Punish a Muslim Day" to take place this week.

Police said that they had received "no credible information" that hate crimes would take place but added officers remained on alert for potential incidents.

They sought to reassure communities ahead of April 3 named a national day of violence against Muslims in a malicious advert circulated in London and other UK cities.

People across the UK are planning events to combat the vile message of hate contained in the letter.

As the day approached Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama, an NGO that monitors anti-Muslim activity, told the Standard: "Given the fear in Muslim communities we've been working to see how communities can support each other on the day, should anything happen.

Police urge Londoners to unite against 'Punish a Muslim' day threats (Twitter)
Police urge Londoners to unite against 'Punish a Muslim' day threats (Twitter)

"We've put security bulletins with safety tips out through police forces but also through our own database.

"The advice is to continue with your daily activities and don't stay indoors as some messages circulated on WhatsApp have told people, but to be alert and vigilant and if you see anything suspicious, report it to police and Tell Mama."

People tweeted their solidarity with Muslim communities and offered support for anyone left frightened by the letters, with one woman writing: "If you’re a Muslim around Hammersmith/Askew area on Tuesday and you feel unsafe DM me. I’ll be home most of the day and can escort you and offer help."

A spokesman for the Met Police told the Standard that there is "no credible information" that any hate crimes will happen on Tuesday, however it encouraged local communities to unite in the face of threats.

The spokesman said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of continuing concerns circulating in the community about some correspondence that has been widely shared on social media.

"At this time there is no credible information to suggest there is any criminal activity that will take place.

"However, we recognise the alarm and distress such messages cause and an investigation led by Counter-Terrorism Policing North-East, and supported by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, is ongoing to identify those responsible."

He added: "These messages seek to cause fear and mistrust amongst our communities and to divide us. Yet in spite of this our communities have shown strength in their response to such hatred and in their support for each other.

"We will be encouraging local faith and community networks to take part in a ‘#westandtogether’ campaign to demonstrate once again that London is a tolerant city, proud and protective of all its diverse communities and a city the Met is proud to represent."

The Met said they had received a report of a physical copy of the letter being sent to an east London address and one report from a person in south-west London who received a copy of the note through Whatsapp.

Meanwhile West Yorkshire Police has confirmed it received around six reports of letters advertising "punish a Muslim day" and said counter terrorism police were investigating.

Tell Mama said it has received 20 reports of physical letters being received in total, mostly at residential addresses in Leicester, Bradford and east London, bearing the same postmark from Sheffield.

The letter has caused concern among lawmakers, and an urgent question was raised in the House of Commons about them last month by Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi.

The notes asked recipients to carry out violent acts including verbal abuse, removing a woman’s hijab or head-scarf, physical assault and using acid as a weapon.

These were ranked using a points-based system, with the letter stating: "There will be rewards based on action taken."

Anybody with information about hate crime is urged to contact police via 101 or through twitter @MetCC – in an emergency, phone 999. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously to report crime on 0800 555 111.