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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Number of UK ‘Punish a Muslim’ letters rises to more than 15

Hate mail and suspicious packages spread alarm across Britain

The mosque in east London's Whitechapel neighborhood. Associated Press
The mosque in east London's Whitechapel neighborhood. Associated Press

The number of anonymous hate letters encouraging Britons to “Punish a Muslim” on April 3 has risen to more than 15, triggering fear across UK cities and a major police counter-terrorism investigation.

The anonymous post started arriving on Saturday in plain white envelopes with second-class stamps. They were sent to addresses in London, Bradford, Leicester, Cardiff and Sheffield, suggesting ways to target Muslims and win reward points - 10 points for verbally abusing a Muslim, 1,000 points for bombing a mosque and 2,500 points to “nuke Mecca”.

Tell MAMA, the UK anti-Muslim hate monitoring service, told The National that 15 people had reported letters to the group. Some wanted to know if it was safe for their children to play outdoors.

“The reaction from those who have received the letters is fear, trepidation and a hesitation to go out. In fact, we have also had people who have asked us whether it is okay to go out on April 3rd,” Iman Atta, director of MAMA, said.

Four British MPs with South Asian backgrounds also received Islamophobic hate mail this week, along with packages containing a harmless sticky liquid. MP Rupa Huq said she was worried that the package addressed to her went through House of Commons security but “even more worrying that someone out there thinks it is open season on Muslim MPs".

Riaz Ahmed, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Bradford, in West Yorkshire county, was contacted at his business address.

“It seems strange that anyone would send something like this to an address in a predominantly Muslim area,’’ Mr. Ahmed told The Mirror. “I was horrified.”

“Are you a sheep like the vast majority of the population? Sheep follow orders and are easily led,” the letters read. “They are allowing the white-majority nations of Europe and North America to become overrun by those who would like nothing more than to do us harm and to turn our democracies into sharia-led police states.”

Scotland Yard and other police forces have warned residents to be vigilant.

Naz Shah, a member of Parliament from Bradford West, said the North East Counter Terrorism Unit coordinating the investigation told her the letters appear to be linked.

The counter terrorism unit didn’t respond to a request for comment on Thursday and the significance of the date April 3 is not clear.

Tell MAMA said at least some of the letters appeared to have been posted in Sheffield, which is a “concern” because similar letters sent to mosques in the UK and US in May 2017 were also posted from Sheffield. No other link has so far been established.