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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Bradford Muslims sent acid attack threat letters

Two residents of the Hanover Square area of the northern city were sent letters warning of attacks

Members of the English Defence League are planning to hold a protest in Bradford this weekend to coincide with the beginning of Eid al-Adha
Members of the English Defence League are planning to hold a protest in Bradford this weekend to coincide with the beginning of Eid al-Adha

Muslims in the northern British city of Bradford have been targeted by poison pen letters threatening them with acid attacks, prompting police to launch a hate-crime investigation.

At least two residents of Hanover Square, a predominantly Muslim area of the west Yorkshire metropolitan district, received threatening communications during the last week.

The letters, which appear to have been sent by a far-right nationalist group, feature England’s national flag, the cross of St George, alongside a sword and the words “Kill scum Muslims”.

It goes on to claim that the unnamed people behind the letters “are now going to do acid attacks on anyone who wears the funny black masks” – apparently a reference to burqas – “around your square & Bradford & other places”.

The letter then claims that “three of ur male pigs” had been ‘grooming’ white girls in the inner-city area, warning that: “We know who the three male pigs are they are walking dead pigs.”

West Yorkshire Police are treating the letters “extremely seriously” and deployed additional officers over the bank holiday weekend in Manningham, the area around Hanover Square.

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A West Yorkshire police spokeswoman said: “A thorough investigation has been launched and officers are working with the local community and partners to identify and prosecute those responsible for this despicable crime.

“We understand the impact hate crime and hate incidents can have on our communities and on individuals, and crimes of this nature will not be tolerated.”

The far-right organisation the English Defence League (EDL) is planning a march on Saturday to coincide with the beginning of Eid al-Adha, and tensions have been rising in the city, which has experienced racially and religiously motivated protests in the past.

One of those who received the letter, Mohammed Qayd, told The Guardian: “I was shocked. My mum wears a burqa and she goes to town regularly so I was concerned for her. When I explained it to her she realised the severity of it and was afraid. You start wondering whether it’s safe to go out on their own.”

The letter sent to Qayd had a second-class stamp on it and had been posted in Lancashire, the adjacent county to the west of Yorkshire.

There has been an upsurge of hate crime directed towards Muslims in 2017 in the wake of terror attacks in London and Manchester which were claimed by Isis.

Another local factor at play in the north of England has been the conviction in early August of 17 men and one woman in Newcastle for their role in a sex abuse ring in which more than 100 adolescent girls and young women were sexually exploited over a four-year period between 2010-14.

The male perpetrators were from Bangladesh, India, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan, and following injudicious comments from politicians and journalists, widespread resentment against Muslim communities is being stoked by the EDL and other nationalist groupings.

There has also been a spate of acid attacks across the country in recent months, where corrosive substances are thrown into victims’ faces, with London and other police forces reporting massive increases in the number of incidents.