LONDON — British Muslims vowed to “keep calm and carry on” Tuesday after anonymous leaflets mailed to addresses across the country called for April 3 to be a day of violence against Muslims.
Police are investigating after leaflets referring to "Punish a Muslim Day" appeared to target several cities with large Muslim populations, including London and Bradford.
"The campaign has caused serious fear within Muslim communities, especially among Muslim women, who often suffer the most from Islamophobia," said the Muslim Council of Britain, which represents a number of Islamic organizations, in a statement.
"The Muslim Council of Britain has been urging vigilance but also recognizes the importance of keeping calm and carrying on, for those who are able," it added.
WhatsApp messages urged women to hide their hijabs and advised people to make sure their doors are locked and how to explain the situation to their children, the Mirror reported.
This makes me sick to my stomach. This makes me sad, afraid, hurt and emotional. Not only as a Muslim, but as a human being. #PunishAMuslimDay is a sad thing that shows where our world is. pic.twitter.com/lbCLeFOJQ6— мαℓ👼🏻 (@friendsofkessa) March 25, 2018
One of the messages read: "Sisters please be warned that on 3rd April DO NOT GO OUT they have made a national punish a muslim day!" according to the Daily Mirror.
The message continued to say the plan was not a joke and that its perpetrators intended to give points to people who captured attacks, such as snatching hijabs and acid attacks, on video.
Recorded incidents of hate crime in Britain have leaped since the country voted to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum. Controlling immigration was a major issue during campaigning ahead of the vote.
Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama — an independent organisation that records anti-Muslim incidents in the United Kingdom — advised people to continue with their normal activities, to be vigilant, not to stay indoors and to report any incidents to the organization, the London Evening Standard reported.
#PunishAMuslimDay was trending on Twitter as people voiced their concerns and solidarity:
Didn't think I'd get anxious about #PunishAMuslimDay but I currently am. Thinking of all Muslims, especially visibly Muslim women, across the UK who don't have the privilege of staying at home to avoid getting horribly attacked. Please be vigilant.— Lina - سيرين (@Lina_Serene) April 2, 2018
To those concerned about #PunishAMuslimDay & there are many who are choosing not to go out that day— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) March 28, 2018
Let me reassure, police forces are taking it seriously & many will put on additional patrols with more visibility
Standing up to bullies is the only response
If you witness (non physical) islamophobic harassment today (or any day), this guide by @itsmaeril could come in handy #PunishAMuslimDay pic.twitter.com/H7w9q4lp4x— ikran (@ikran) April 3, 2018
My heart goes out to all the Sikhs who will be mistakenly targeted on #PunishAMuslimDay by the ignorant Islamaphobes who assume that anyone who wears a turban is Muslim.— Shaykh Azhar Nasser (@ShaykhAzhar) April 2, 2018
#PunishAMuslimDay one thing Muslims dislike is chocolate. They’re told to look after their bodies as it is a trust unto them. And obviously chocolate is unhealthy for them. Basically kryptonite. Post chocolate to their houses for 800 Muslim points— Anas (@Saka1410) March 29, 2018
Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police in northern England said its officers were investigating a number of reports of "potentially malicious communications sent to individuals" in the city of Bradford.
London's Metropolitan Police Service said it was aware the leaflets had been circulating in the capital.
"The MPS does not tolerate any form of hate crime. If anyone believes they have been a victim of such an offence we would encourage them to report it to police so it can be fully investigated," it said in a statement.
The Muslim Council of Britain said that Islamophobia is "a reality for many Muslims throughout the year" and said it will continue to urge the government to take anti-Muslim bigotry seriously.
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