UK police arrest man over threatening 'Punish a Muslim Day' letters

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
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British counterterrorism police have arrested a man on suspicion of sending letters entitled "Punish a Muslim Day" that urged people around the country to commit violent acts.

The unnamed 35-year-old from Lincoln in northeast England was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of sending letters conveying a threatening message and of sending a hoax noxious substance. He was taken to a police station for questioning.

"These letters seek to cause fear and offence among our Muslim communities. They also seek to divide us," said Martin Snowden, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, in an earlier statement on the investigation, as reported by Reuters. "Yet in spite of this our communities have shown strength in their response to such hatred and in their support for each other."

A letter calling on people to perpetrate violent crimes against Britain's Muslim community as it advertised April 3 as a day of violence against the U.K.'s Muslim minority. The letter calls on people to attack Muslims in the form of verbal abuse or physical assault, such as by removing a woman's hijab or headscarf, or by throwing acid on them. The hate letter urges terrorist acts such as to "butcher a Muslim using gun, knife, vehicle or otherwise," and "burn or bomb a mosque," with "Nuke Mecca" being the top hate crime listed, offering 2,500 "points."

Britain's most senior counterterrorism police officer said in February this year that Britain faced a new and significant threat from far-right terrorism. As the number of white Britons arrested on terrorism-related offences increases, anti-Muslim hate crimes have skyrocketed by more than 500 percent following the May 22 concert suicide bombing in Manchester.

In 2016, some 4,400 religious hate crimes were carried out, a number that went up to 5,949 in 2017. The peculiar nature of the letter itself suggests that it is not in fact genuine and could spawn an organized Internet campaign to stir up emotion within the populations of not only Britain but also the rest of the West. Significant factors included the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union, a goal linked to curbing immigration in the eyes of some Brexit supporters, as well as a spate of attacks by militants in the first half of 2017. Compiled from wires

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