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Why Punish A Muslim? #PunishAMuslimDay

Imagine that you are being offered some rewards for throwing acid to someone’s face, would you do it?

Of course, none of the Islamic teachings, any religion or any principle of humanity or human right for that matter, would encourage such inhumane act.

Well, that is the issue. Since early March, a horrifying letter has been spread all over the major cities in the UK including Cardiff, Leicester, London and Sheffield, causing uproar within the local community as well as the social media.

This mystery letter advocates punishment against Muslims. So hateful, it even reminds not to forget to commemorate the Mother’s day (as mentioned at the corner of the envelope).

The letter, which includes an address and a fake logo was advocating for punishment against Muslims.

There is a list of actions to do, including the points granted for doing so. The severity of the acts gets worse from verbal abuse, throwing acid in the face of a Muslim, until bombing a mosque or nuking Mecca, the holy city for the Muslims.

Some of the Muslim Members of the Parliament even received the letter, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) revealed.

While the logo included was found to be fake, the imagery of a dagger with the letters ‘MS’ suggested a possible link to the ‘Muslim Slayer’ who sent similar threatening letters to the mosque in London and the US along with non-toxic white powder in 2017, as told by NYPD in their statement.

How could someone ever think of destroying a place this beautiful? Image source

People’s reaction

Tell MAMA, an NGO which focused on measuring anti-muslim attacks (hence the name MAMA) has called for anyone who received the letter to inform them or the authorities. Iman Atta, the project director of Tell MAMA said this incident caused quite a lot of fear within the Muslim community.

“They are asking if they are safe, if their children are safe to play outdoors. We have told them to keep calm.”

Naz Shah, a member of Parliament from Bradford West stated that this incident is very distressful for not only those who have received the letter but also for the broader communities. Another member of Parliament who is also a secretary of state for housing, Sajid Javid promised that they (the Parliament) would do everything in their power to tackle those who spread hate.

“British Muslims should be able to live without fear of abuse and attack,” he insisted.

On edge

As the day approaches (or you might be on the day, or passes it safely when you’re reading this), the international Muslim communities are on alert.

The fear heightened since the number of hate crimes has risen along with the increase of the Muslim populations. The rate of 4.4 percent increase of the latter has been recorded between 2001-2011 to 2.7 million people, while the number of hate crimes also has risen at 29 percent to 80,393 offences from 2016 until 2017 according to the Home Office statistics.

The Saudi Embassy in the UK has called upon its citizen in the UK to exercise caution and vigilance, while the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee advised the community to call the law enforcement whenever they feel they are in danger.

“Please take care of yourself and your family,” the headteacher of the Greenfield Primary School in Hyde, Nasira Frost told the parents.

In social media, a few videos are already falsely circulating, causing the terror to worsen. One of the videos showed a Muslim guy stabbed by a knife in Sheffield on March 26. One of his family members claimed it to be untrue and asked the video to be put down.

An older video is recently uploaded, showing a man attacking a Muslim woman who apparently was checking into the Beaumont Dearborn emergency room. The incident, however, is claimed to occur before the spreading of the letters, which was on February 10.

Some people on the social media creatively countered the hate mongering campaign with this letter and hashtag #LoveAMuslimDay. It even has the Halal logo! Image source

Why Muslim?

According to the content of the letter, the Muslims are wrong for at least three reasons: making the loved one suffer, wanting to overrun the people (country), and trying to replace the democracy system with Sharia-led police state.

The letters also claimed the Muslims like to harm people. Is it true?

There is so far no official analysis on the exact events pinpointed for those reasons. Nevertheless, a news portal put the blame on the ISIS-inspired attacks, four of which took place in the UK in 2017.

Another factor which might be related is the appointment of London Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, as reported by another portal. Khan spoke out as the police were investigating this letter, revealing the threat he received from being the mayor.

“I say, kill the Mayor of London and you will be rid of one Muslim terrorist,” the tweet goes.

This hate towards him is in spite of this peace-loving Muslim mayor recently announcing his plan for an anniversary tribute after the attack on the Londoners and tourists at the London Bridge last year, as well as his condemnation on the attack with his famous line:

“As a proud and patriotic British Muslim, I say this — you cannot commit these disgusting acts in my name. Your perverse ideology has nothing to do with the true values of Islam, and you will never succeed in dividing our city.”

Why was he saying about ‘British Muslim’, ‘in my name’ and ‘nothing to do with the true values of Islam’?

It was due to the three attackers was, in fact, British Muslims!

Trivia: In 2009, when Sadiq Khan was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council, an ancient body of senior politicians, he brought his own Quran to Buckingham Palace and left it there, because the palace did not have a copy.

Sadiq Khan and the Metropolitan Police visited the scene of the attack on London Bridge. His face showed that he was deeply concerned and disturbed by the attack. Photo by Reuters

A Muslim condemning Muslim?

Both the London attack and the firm response of Khan to it give us a hint on tackling the issue of misunderstanding of Islam.

Despite being a Muslim himself, Khan strongly condemned those Muslim attackers, insisting that their action did not portray the original values or teachings of Islam.

Islam soars high from the foundation of love and justice, a universal religion which is sent down for the blessings of the universe.

“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds”. (Quran 21:107)

There are some of the not-practising Muslims and the Muslims who misunderstood the real essence of Islam who exist around the world. These people tend to exploit Islam for lust and personal interest due to their ignorance.

Trivia: The captured ISIS leaders — considering that ISIS self-proclaimed to fight under the name of Islam — don’t even know how to pray or recite al-Quran! Watch here.

Hence, Khan firmly played his responsibility to tell the Londoners and the world, that Islam, in fact, does not teach terrorism and the Muslim attackers have misunderstood Islam.

While one has to understand the teaching of Islam from both the Quran and the teaching of Prophet Muhammad, ISIS only used part of the Quran’s verses while ignoring the rest. This wrong approach in studying the Quran causes them to misunderstand the divine sources teaching, hence missing the contextual meaning of the teachings.

How horrible the result would be if you cook using half of the recipe! Image source

It is obvious then that Islam — literally meaning peace, and contextually bringing peace — has nothing to do with terrorism and violence, so do the innocent and practising Muslims.  One should not blame the religion, for the wrong acts of individuals.

For April 3, let’s pray for the Muslims around the world for their safety, and may Allah bless those who stand up in support for the Muslims and fighting for the love and peace of the Muslim community.

We could live together in harmony, why couldn’t we? Photo by Sandy Huffaker, Reuters