Our community is deeply concerned about the threatening and offensive letters that have been sent to Muslim families and businesses across the United Kingdom calling on members of the public to “punish” Muslims through a series of acts of violence, rewarded by a points-based system.
Sadly, these letters are reflective of an increasingly hostile environment for Muslims, at a time when we are witnessing an exponential rise in incidents of anti-Muslim racism, coupled with the resurgence of the far right. We are committed to working together across our town and with our elected representatives, both local Councillors and MPs, to take proactive steps to ensure that we do not continue to allow this environment of hate to flourish.
These letters have, understandably, caused a great deal of hurt and distress. However, we ask everyone to remain calm but vigilant during this time. We are working with the Police and Local Authority to ensure measures are in place to safeguard communities.
Faisal Hussain of the Luton Sunni Council of Mosques said “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.” Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “We will not tolerate anyone who seeks to spread hate, fear or division and are working with partners here in Bedfordshire and police forces across the UK to ensure those responsible are brought to justice. There is wonderful diversity across Bedfordshire and we stand together with all of our communities. Our greatest strength will always be togetherness in the face of intolerance. While these letters have mostly been received in other parts of the country, I would urge people to be vigilant and call the police if they believe they have been the victim of such an offence.”
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. Having met with Bedfordshire Police and Luton Borough Council we are reassured that appropriate measures are being put in place to ensure the security of all our communities and strengthen our community relations.”
Hazel Simmons MBE, Leader of Luton Council, said: “We stand united with the community and the police in having a zero-tolerance approach to such vile material. We are working closely with our communities to reassure residents that such hateful behaviour has no place in our Town, and are always open to new ideas for positive ways to promote and strengthen harmony across Luton. Anyone with any concerns about a communication they have received should not hesitate to contact Bedfordshire Police.”
If a letter is received, please follow the below guidelines:
- Keep the number of people who handle the letter and the envelope to a minimum – this is to give Police the best chance to identify the sender through the use of forensic techniques and minimise the risk of harm.
- Place the letter and the envelope in a clean plastic bag or similar (a sandwich bag or freezer bag for example) as this will stop further contamination.
- Call the local Police and inform them, they will assess what you have received and know the procedure to follow, whether the letter is part of this series or not. Call 101 or 999 for an emergency. You can also speak to the Police in confidence on 0800 789 321.
Additional letters of support
- Luton Council of Faiths
- Letter from the Bishop of St Albans
- Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton, The Methodist Church of Beds, Herts and Essex and the Thames North Synod of the United Reformed Church
- Churches together in Luton
Reporting hate crime
Any anti-Muslim or Islamophobic hate crime should be reported to the Police by contacting 101 or 999 if an emergency. You can also report online: www.report-it.org.uk, or at one of Bedfordshire’s designated third party reporting centres, details of which can be found here.