One of the letters calling for violence against Muslims. Copies have been received in Leicester, Bradford, Cardiff, Sheffield and LondonTwitter/TellMAMA

Campaigners in Cambridge have spoken out against a string of “grossly racist and Islamophobic” anonymous letters calling on people to attack Muslims today.

Over the past month, there have been repeated incidents of people receiving the letters, which call for April 3rd to become ‘Punish a Muslim day’ and say points will be awarded for acts of violence against Muslims.

A group of Cambridge residents and activists has called for an end to threats in an open letter of support, saying “this vile racism has no place in our communities and in our universities”.

This afternoon, campaigners will present the open letter at the Abu Bakr Mosque, on Mawson Road in central Cambridge, and rally outside the building.

The open letter, which has been signed by people including several University academics, local MP Daniel Zeichner, and the president of Cambridge’s Islamic Society (ISoc), says: “It is time to take a stand. We pledge to work together to root out Islamophobia, to oppose racism in all its forms and to defend our vibrant multicultural society.”

Their appeals were echoed by the CUSU BME Campaign, which said the incident is “part of the structural violence present in our society that vilifies and terrorises the lives of Muslims daily”.

The authors of the ‘Punish a Muslim day’ letters are unknown, but copies were received early last month in several parts of the UK, including Leicester, Bradford, Cardiff, Sheffield and London, with some people also being sent copies through the messaging program WhatsApp. There have been no reports of physical copies being received in Cambridgeshire.

The letters, printed on A4 paper, say that countries in Western Europe and North America are becoming “overrun by those who would like nothing more than to do us harm and to turn our democracies into sharia-led police states.”

In a statement, the BME Campaign said it “wants to express its solidarity with the Muslim community inside and outside of Cambridge as well as its utter disgust towards the grossly racist and Islamophobic event being carried out titled ‘Punish a Muslim Day’.”

“We strongly urge non-Muslim, able-bodied white allies to partake in the resistance organised on the day to show solidarity and provide protection for those affected,” it continued, adding: “It is times like these that calls for solidarity are most urgent to counter the wave of overt bigotry and violence that Muslims are facing. The uncertainty of how things will unravel on the day create a climate of fear and anxiety for Muslims in the city.”

The BME Campaign said that able-bodied non-Muslim students who wished to offer support could do so by offering to walk with Muslim friends and peers, and by quickly reporting any incidents. It added: “We also urgently request the University and individual Colleges to take action, such as alerting porters and library and departmental staff, to safeguard the welfare of Muslim students.”.

Several police forces across the country have called for caution in response to the letters. A spokesperson for the London Metropolitan Police told the Evening Standard on Monday that “at this time there is no credible information to suggest there is any criminal activity that will take place,” but said “we recognise the alarm and distress such messages cause”, and confirmed that it was investigating reports.

The charity TellMAMA, which monitors abusive actions targeting Muslims, said it has had 20 reports of physical copies of the letter being received across the country. TellMAMA said it was “working with police forces [to combat] this malicious campaign”.

Micha Frazer-Carroll, welfare and rights officer of CUSU and the Graduate Union, said students should seek support if they felt threatened by the letters.


Mountain View

Man charged after bacon left on cars outside Cambridge mosque

“Students should remember that there are a number of student-organised safe spaces that BME, and specifically Muslim students can gain solidarity and support, including FLY, the BME Campaign, and ISoc,” she told Varsity.

“If students are concerned about the effects of racism and Islamophobia on their mental health and wellbeing, they should not hesitate to seek formal support.”

The University of Cambridge does not release data on religious belief among students, but limited statistics from 2016 show that, of the third of staff about whose religious beliefs the University held data, just over 2% were Muslims. In a report by the National Union of Students, released earlier this year, one in three Muslim students surveyed claimed to have been the victims of abuse that they believed to have been motivated by their religious beliefs.

Anyone with information about a hate crime is urged to contact the police via 101, or 999 in an emergency. Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111 to anonymously report crime. Information on how to contact CallMAMA can be found on its website. The CUSU BME Campaign has provided information for concerned students on its Facebook page.