In the early week of March 2018, several communities in England received a letter captioned with the words “Punish a Muslim Day”. Anyone who would follow the instruction on April 3th, can win points for troubling the Muslim community. 25 points are granted for pulling off a woman’s head scarf. 500 points for murdering a Muslim. 1,000 for bombing a mosque.
There’s A Clear Increase In Hate Crimes Against Muslims
With the increase in Muslim population and islamophobia, the Home Office Statistics stated the number of hate crimes against Muslims in England and Wales has risen too. There were 62,518 in 2015-2016 compared with a striking 80,393 offenses in 2016-2017. Those offenses mostly included arson attacks on mosques and schools. Only last year, a British man was accused of ramming a van into a group of Muslims leaving a London mosque, killing a Muslim person, and injuring several others.
According to the Tell MAMA’s (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) website, copies of the leaflet were send to London, the Midlands, and Yorkshire. Images have even been shared on several social media platforms. MAMA stated they are working closely with police to track the mailings, and the police has assured that this matter is being taken very seriously and measures are underway to protect any individual from falling victim to the hate messages.
A “Love A Muslim” Letter Counters The Hate-Inciting Leaflet
The leaflet obviously horrified the Muslim community, understanding it as a direct attempt to terrorize a community. Shahab Idris, activist and regional manager for the advocacy group Muslim Engagement and Development from Leeds, has taken the issue with a brave counterattack. bravely instead of retaliating. Idris is encouraging people to shower love on Muslims that same day.
Idris’ “Love A Muslim” letter mimics the format of the “Punish a Muslim” campaign. Instead of calling for acts of violence, he urges for acts of kindness. points for smiling at a Muslim. 25 points for buying a coffee for a Muslim. 500 points for fasting during Ramadan with a Muslim. 1,000 points for raising funds to help needy residents of Iraq or Syria.
With this act, Idris said he’s not only protecting the Muslim community but other religious minorities, like Sikh, Jews and Hindu’s, as well since he expects them to be a target too. Many people perceive someone to be a Muslim because someone’s particular dress, style or appearance seems similar to that of a ‘typical’ Muslim.
Muslim Comedian Hasan Minaj Always Finds The Time To Turn Hate Into A Joke
During an episode of the Daily Show, talk show host Trevor Noah said to his senior correspondent Hasan Minhaj the disgusting campaign must have upset him deeply. Minhaj, however, had a witty reply to this: “Actually Trevor, I’m optimistic. I know it’s scary but they’re proposing “Punish a Muslim Day”. A day, Trevor, one day. That’s 364 days less than normal.”
When Can Muslims Stop Justifying Their Existence?
Idris’ initiative was wholeheartedly accepted by many peace-loving people but didn’t stop there. Many have raised issues related to Islamophobia and wished for those issues to be addressed on a more serious note. Islamophobia striking rise is related to the growing popularity of right wing groups across the world. One can only be terrified with the knowledge how easy people encourage violence, torture, and rape against people, and this without a possibility of severe consequences to the perpetuators and no subsequent actions to prevent future crimes.
Without a doubt, “Love A Muslim Day” is a wonderful initiative and delivered a beautiful meaning with good intention, but until when will we, Muslims, be able stop justifying our existence? Muslims are also just as human as anyone else. We’re peace-loving people who have had to resist fundamentalists as much as others have. So, when are we finally allowed to fully live our lives on this earth?