London mosques receive Islamophobic letters about quake victims

3/14/2023 4:55 PM

At least two mosques in east London received Islamophobic and racist hate letters following the deadly earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, which resulted in over 42,000 deaths.  

The Metropolitan Police is investigating the incident, and the Muslim community is being encouraged to report similar incidents of hate speech.

The devastating earthquakes that struck south-eastern Turkey along the Syrian border on February 6 has left many Turkish and Syrian residents of London grieving the loss of friends and family members.  

One of the letters mocked the deaths of Muslims in the earthquake and “wished” for the deaths of more Muslims.

"I could not stop smiling watching the people being pulled from the rubble, some dead, some still sadly alive," it read.

The letter added that “the more Muslims that suffer the better” and the writer wished for another earthquake in the region.

The chairman of one of the mosques sent the letter, Erkin Guney from Masjid Ramadan, told the BBC he was lost for words when he read the letter.

He said the first line mentioned "sorrow", adding: "It was only when I read the second line, I stopped in my tracks and realised it was a very hateful message. I was lost for words, it turned my stomach."

Mr Guney, who has sent 300 aid boxes from the mosque, also known as Shacklewell Lane Mosque, said he has also received hundreds of supportive messages.

The second letter was sent to a mosque in Stoke Newington.

‘Stark reminder' of Islamophobia in society

The Muslim Council of Britain tweeted that it was “shocked” by the letters.

“This has been extremely distressing for communities that have been impacted by these devastating earthquakes,” it said.

“This is a stark reminder of how islamophobia permeates society and the dangers of those who espouse such hatred.

“We urge mosques to report to the police if they should receive such letters. Hatred of any form cannot be tolerated.”

In a joint statement, the Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and the Labour councillor Susan Fajana Thomas, condemned the letter.

“Some of our residents may have lost family and loved ones in the earthquake. We must not let the kind of hatred contained in the letters cloud the support the people of this area need from us and the rest of the world at this moment,” they said.  

Local councillors said the police have reacted quickly and are taking the matter seriously.

This latest incident of hate speech targeting the Muslim community comes amid a recent rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the UK.

According to government figures, most victims of religious hate crimes in England and Wales are Muslims. In the year ending March 2022, 42% of religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslims.  

Image: Masjid Ramadan website