We totally condemn "Punish a Muslim day" ....
A person or people unknown recently thought it cool to declare Tuesday 3rd April as "Punish a Muslim Day." As a Peace Centre we join St Marys Church, the churches in Luton, the Bishop of St Albans and many others in totally condemning this cruel and destructive act.
St Marys Centre works closely with Churches Together in Luton (CTL). This week they sent a strong letter of support to our Muslim friends expressing that condemnation and committing to stand together with them. You can find it below or as a pdf here.
We have also asked churches in Luton to consider calling those attending Easter services to acts of kindness and expressions of solidarity this coming Tuesday.
In a horrible act of hatred and bigotry there have been attempts to declare Tuesday 3rd April as Punish a Muslim Day. As a church in Luton we condemn that and are committed to doing all we can to oppose it.
Today, Easter Sunday, is the high point of the Christian calendar and season in which we celebrate what we hold as the costly and sacrificial love of God extended to the world in Jesus Christ, and the victory of that love over death itself. That love calls us to oppose such hatred and all that divides. As the church in Luton we want to encourage you to reach out in practical acts of kindness to all your neighbours, colleagues and friends this Tuesday, and especially to Muslims you meet.
You can find more on our deep concern about this threat to our our Muslim neighbours and friends below our letter.
The idea of "Punish a Muslim Day" on 3rd April was the theme of a letter that has been received in its original form as a hard copy by a number of Muslims around the nation. The source of the original letter is unknown, and is being investigated by the police's counter terror unit. However as so often in this day of social, media (and doubtless the intention of the originators) the letter has spread far and wide through social media, both by those applauding its sentiments and those who condemn it,. We have not chosen to dignify it by its inclusion here. It is enough to say it promises varying numbers of points for different ways of abusing or attacking Muslims and their faith.
There is no evidence it seems that it’s originators have specific plans to kill and destroy on that day. So some would say: 'Whats the fuss? Its just some idiotic people who don't know better.' At one level that is true; it represents a hate crime, and should be prosecuted as that at a local level if the originators can be traced. However in this day of social media the letter has gone around the world, and the echo chamber effect has taken over. And as such it will undoubtedly lead many to random but just as horrible acts of hatred and discrimination on Tuesday. Even if nothing happens its ugliest impact is already achieved in creating fear and anxiety. I know of Muslim children who have been coming home in tears, of teens who are angry and confused, of parents who won't let their children out that day. We simply can not tolerate that in this nation.
Faisal Hussain of the Luton Sunni Council of Mosques said in a Press Release from the Luton Muslim community earlier this week:
“Everybody has the right to feel safe and confident about their identity. We cannot underestimate both the long and short-term impact of this environment of hate on communities and children in particular. We will continue to work with the authorities to ensure that long-term strategies are put in place to support children and families. Hate crimes have absolutely no place in our society.”
The letter has been condemned in parliament, including by the Bishop of Newcastle in the House of Lord
“On behalf of these benches and, I am sure, on behalf of the Church, I want to say that any attack on a person or community on the basis of their faith or their race is abhorrent and has no place in a decent, civilised society. As a Christian leader, I stand in solidarity with my Muslim friends and with all those in and outside this building who have been directly affected or are fearful and anxious.”
Locally the threat has been condemned by the Bishop of St Albans, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton together with the district moderator of the United Reform Churches and chair of the Methodist district, and Luton Council of Faiths. The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police and leader of Luton Borough Council have written to the Muslim community - their letters are here.
Our Muslim friends are being incredibly level headed about it, despite the fear it is causing. Ishaq Kazi of Luton Council of Mosques said “Whilst it is clear that the letters have been sent to cause fear and offence among Muslim communities, we are committed to ensuring that they do not disrupt cohesion in our town. " Many of us would like grand gestures of solidarity on the day, but are respecting the wishes of our friends for life as normal:
We understand there is a need to be vigilant however we want to make our best efforts to ensure that the 3rd April should be an ordinary day just like any other day. We cannot let this day be taken away from us and be marked with terror and fear for any community.
In a nutshell: the haters will not win!