BY ANADOLU AGENCY
LONDON FEB 17, 2023 – DAILY SABAH
A man displays a placard during a protest following the burning of the Quran in Stockholm, outside the Embassy of Sweden in London, Britain, Jan. 28, 2023. (Reuters Photo)
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The Muslim community in the United Kingdom was horrified to receive a hate-filled letter after two catastrophic earthquakes left tens of thousands of people dead in Türkiye and Syria on Feb. 6.
In an “appalling and disgusting” show of animosity at a time nations worldwide have come together to help heal the wounds from the devastating disaster, two mosques in London, both the U.K.’s first Turkish mosque Masjid Ramadan and the largest one Aziziye Mosque, were shocked to receive letters at the same time on Wednesday.
The letters read: “I wish to make it clear that it is not heartfelt sorrow that I feel that thousands of people died. I’m only sincerely sorry that more Muslims didn’t die.”
Expressing disturbing glee at the suffering and death caused by last Monday’s earthquakes, the anonymous author wished for more misfortune to befall Muslims in the region.
‘Dark, upsetting, disturbing’
Erkin Güney, the chairperson of Masjid Ramadan, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the content of the letter was “very dark, upsetting, very disturbing.”
“Still, I can’t put into words that my stomach is still turning from the content,” he said, adding it was filled with darkness and hatred toward Muslims.
He also said he informed the authorities as soon as they received the letter. When AA visited the mosque, police officers were enquiring about the current situation following the hate crime.
“I can only pray that this person that has written this letter may have mercy in his soul and may he be filled with love and (may) someone teach you to be a bit humane, a bit more empathy and understanding of these tragic circumstances we are experiencing in Türkiye and Syria,” Güney said, addressing the sender.
Praising the work done by the police on the incident, he said: “And I have to say, police have done a fantastic job. We didn’t think anything was going to come about it but the police actually arrested someone for those letters.”
Güney also said he was “very sorry for the experiences that this person had.”
“I can tell you this, the teachings of Islam are one of the most loving things that we have in our tradition and culture. And you should spend some time reading the Quran (the Muslim holy book) or spend some time around some Muslim brothers and sisters and identify the truth.”
Echoing Güney, Ebu Bekir Tezgel, a senior imam at the Aziziye Mosque in Stoke Newington, confirmed that he too received a letter that had very “upsetting statements” about Muslims.
“Shocked” to receive such a letter at a time when people around the world were united in support of those affected by the earthquakes, he said, “This is unacceptable, disgusting, and a hate crime.”
They had received similar threats in the past but the scale of this hate crime was “on another level,” added Tezgel.
“At this time of unity, when everybody, no matter who they are, where they’re from, what their beliefs are, has united in supporting the quake survivors, receiving a letter of this language was appalling,” he said.
Since the magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes claimed more than 38,000 lives and injured over 108,000 in Türkiye and some 3,688 others in Syria, countries worldwide have mobilized to send humanitarian aid and relief to the region in a massive display of solidarity.
Tezgel said he also reported the crime to the police, saying: “They’re doing the most to investigate who has actually written and sent this disgusting letter to us.”
Hate crime has been a rising trend in recent years, police data in England and Wales has shown, with a total of 155,841 incidents in the year ending March 2022, marking a 26% rise compared to the year ending March 2021.
A total of 109,843 were racial hate crimes, while 8,730 were based on religion.
According to a prominent Muslim scholar based in London, the rising trend echoes a “similar increase in far-right groups in government which were banished to the sidelines only 15 years ago.”
“What these figures go to show is that we are at risk of the sorts of dissemination and the breakup of the very fabric of British society and it’s something that we must pay serious attention to,” Anas Altikriti, CEO of Cordoba Foundation, told AA last October.
Categories: Europe, Europe and Australia, Islamophobia, ISLAMOPHOBIA, Syria, Turkey, Turks, UK
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