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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Five UK mosques sent ‘Punish a Muslim Day'-style letters

New hate mail campaign targets mosques in London, Kent and beyond with 'alarming' and aggressive threats

Protesters take part in the Stop Racism demonstration in North London on 'Punish a Muslim Day'. Stephen Lock / The National
Protesters take part in the Stop Racism demonstration in North London on 'Punish a Muslim Day'. Stephen Lock / The National

Five British mosques have been targeted with hate mail linked to the UK ‘Punish a Muslim’ campaign in April which spread fear across the UK.

The new set of letters have "strong evidential links" to the Punish a Muslim Day campaign including the style of the letter, symbolism, postmark and references to far-right individuals. Tell Mama, a group that monitors Muslim hate crime, said they were sent to mosques in London, Kent, Colchester and Essex.

Tell Mama spokesman Fiyaz Mughal called the threats more “aggressive” than in the past but he wouldn't elaborate on the nature of the threats or the names of the mosques targeted.

The group reported the threats to counter-terrorism police in West Yorkshire. The squad also investigated the previous Muslim hate mail campaign in April, which urged people across the UK to carry out attacks on Muslims including murder, and burning or bombing mosques.

Mr Mughal said that the letters were posted from Sheffield, which was where at least some of the "Punish a Muslim Day" letters were posted. There is no specific date or day for the mosques to be targeted with violence, he told The National.

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Scotland Yard referred inquiries to West Yorkshire police, who didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, counter-terrorism police have said they send threat letters for analysis to investigate their origin.

Mr Mughal said the group was offering safety advice and leaflets to UK mosques in addition to visiting those concerned about the threats.

"The letters are far more aggressive in their posture and, to date, Tell Mama are aware of five letters, though further reports are coming in from parts of the country," the group said in a statement.

Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama, said it was essential for mosques to report hate mail and threatening letters or other materials.

"Tell Mama is aware of a campaign that is in play and where material is being sent to mosques," she said.

"We want to re-assure mosques that the risk is very low and that a calm and a focused approached to tackling this hate is needed. We are working closely with police forces on this."

At least 20 anonymous hate letters encouraging Britons to “Punish a Muslim” on April 3 were sent, triggering fear across UK cities and a major police counter-terrorism investigation. Five British MPs with South Asian backgrounds also received Islamophobic hate mail, along with packages containing a harmless sticky liquid.

In the event, April 3 passed without any specific violence targeting Muslims.