Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Muslim community alarmed by ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ letters

A representative of Belfast Islamic Centre has said that the local Muslim community have been concerned after “Punish a Muslim Day” posts were circulated online.

The letters have been posted to Muslims across England but it is not thought that they have been mailed to anyone in  Northern Ireland.

However a number of local people have expressed concern after seeing the posts online.

In the letters and online posts April 3 is listed as a day to carry out attacks on Muslims ranging from verbal abuse to violence against Muslims and the burning of Mosques.

The posts encourage people to carry out attacks against Muslim’s as “They have hurt you, they have made your loved ones suffer. They have caused you pain and heartache.”

Earlier this month the United Kingdom’s National Police Chiefs’ Association said that the letters had led to a counter-terrorism investigation.

A spokesperson for the Belfast Islamic Centre said that many local Muslims had become concerned after seeing the letters go viral on social media.

“As many of you are aware despicable “Punish a Muslim Day” letters have been mailed to Muslims across England by hate filled individuals in an attempt to spread fear and division in society,” the spokesperson said.

“No letters have been received in Northern Ireland however we understand images of the letters have gone viral and have been shared on social media causing considerable alarm within the community and many of you have been in touch seeking reassurance.

“Belfast Islamic Centre staff regularly liaise with police and politicians on issues affecting the Muslim community and particularly in recent months in tackling hate crime and potential safety issues.”

The spokesperson said they did not believe there was an increased threat as a result of the letters.

“The letters are being investigated by police and they, along with other regional police forces are aware and monitoring the situation,” the spokesperson said.

“There is currently no indication of any credible increased threat.

“Our advice is to go about your everyday business as usual, remain vigilant and alert but not alarmed.”

The spokesperson urged anyone concerned they may be at risk to contact the PSNI.

“If you feel threatened or unsafe contact the PSNI on 999 in an emergency. In a non-emergency you can also contact police by dialling ‘101’ or use their Minicom number: 028 9090 1246,” the spokesperson said.

A PSNI spokesperson said that they carry out a range of work to target hate crimes.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland continues to make it clear that hate crime, in any form, will not be tolerated," the spokesperson said.

"We work with our partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors to provide reassurance and support to victims and promote tolerance and respect for all cultures and identities.

"You can find out more about what constitutes a hate crime and more importantly how to report it on the PSNI website."

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