Racist’s ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ campaign led to surge in threats on Britain’s Islamic community
Muslims in the UK faced an increase in violent threats in the run-up to a day called “Punish a Muslim Day”.
An Islamophobia monitoring group said it received a surge in reports in March and April after David Parnham sent letters encouraging violence against Muslims on April 3.
Parnham, 35, last month admitted sending letters containing harmless white powder to Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Theresa May as well as threatening letters to mosques over a period of two years.
The letters were received by communities in England and Wales – including West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Leicestershire, London and Cardiff – and suggested pulling off women’s hijabs and throwing acid at Muslims. He is to be sentenced next month.
The publicity around the date contributed to a surge in reports, said anti-Islamophobia group Tell Mama.
One teenager reported being sent Islamophobic abuse on messaging app Snapchat on April 3 with the sender saying they were “so happy” that it was Punish a Muslim day and called for Muslims to be “placed in concentration camps like the Jews”.
Data from the monitoring group also showed that attacks on British Muslims increased in violence, with a marked shift from online abuse to physical confrontations.
Two thirds of all cases reported to Tell Mama involved street attacks and abuse – a turnaround from five years ago when most reported cases were online. Most victims were women, the group said in its report.
Tell Mama said it was concerned at the rising level of violence and the “irresponsible language of mainstream figures” that marginalised Muslims in British society.
The UK last month reported a 17 per cent increase in hate crime over the past year, with 94,098 incidents recorded by police, up from about 40,000 reported in 2012.
The statistics also revealed an increase in attacks against Muslims in relation to certain events, including the 2016 vote to leave the European Union and terrorist attacks in the UK and France.
One message on Snapchat called for Muslims to be ‘placed in concentration camps like the Jews’