People have responded to letters calling for April 3 to be “Punish a Muslim Day” with pledges to protect and show solidarity with Muslims.
Anonymous letters sent to homes and businesses in the UK last month included a points-based system for various degrees of verbal and physical violence against Muslims.
MPs were among those to receive the letters, which later spread to the US.
But the calls for violence have been met with defiant campaigns calling for people to show solidarity with Muslims.
A spoof of the original letter calling for people to “love a Muslim” has gone viral on social media.
It tells people they can earn points from smiling at a Muslim, or buying them coffee and cake. It also encourages people to organise fundraising events for Muslims suffering in countries including Myanmar, Yemen and Syria, or to invite a Muslim colleague to your home.
“Love a Muslim Day” events have been organised in cities across the UK in opposition to the threats, while people shared the hashtag on Twitter alongside messages of support.
An initiative has also been established calling on people to “protect a Muslim”.
Volunteers have signed up under the initiative to walk people home, or to stay on the phone with anyone concerned about violence.
“We saw Punish A Muslim Day spreading around social media and felt concerned that nothing was being done to make people feel safe,” researcher Jamilla Hekmoun, who co-organised the action, told Euronews.
“We've had many calls today asking if we could get volunteers to accompany females out and about and a couple just wanting to stay on the phone with us as they felt unsafe. It's been a positive response with over 100 volunteers signed up from across the country. We've also had messages of support being sent to the numbers as well as people saying they had been encouraged by our initiative to accompany their Muslim friends around today.”
‘Day of Kindness’
Manzoor Ali told Euronews partner NBC that he had decided to host a “Day of Kindess” in response to the “punish a Muslim” threats.
The Muslim cafe owner, who lives in Manchester, said he wanted to show that “we are bigger than this, better than this.”
“I love my city, love my town, we do a lot community work, we help people. The people here are wonderful and we have a real sense of unity within the community,” he said.
For the “Day of Kindness”, Ali is inviting people of all backgrounds into his cafe where he will be giving out free cups of tea and coffee, and cakes and cookies.
“We can not let this negativity divide us, we're all human beings and there is so much more that connects us than divides us,” he said.