Hundreds turn out for ‘Respect a Muslim’ event in response to ‘outrageous’ Islamophobic letter

Support: the crowd outside Islington Town Hall yesterday. Photograph: SUTR

Over a hundred people gathered outside Islington Town Hall yesterday to unite against Islamophobia – in response to a letter circulated last month promoting ‘Punish a Muslim Day’.

Council staff, unions, residents and Muslims across the borough came together as part of a nationwide ‘Day of Solidarity’ – with rallies held all over the UK.

Campaign group Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) organised the event with support from Muslim faith organisations and charities.

It followed the emergence of a letter, sent to Muslim homes, businesses and MPs around London, promoting ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ on 3 April.

The letter, the origin of which is still unclear, included a points-based reward system for committing various hate crimes against Muslims.

Speaking after the Islington rally, Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, said: “Today was all about respecting each other and showing unity against those who are desperate to divide us and spread hatred, fear and division.”

Kozbar, who addressed the crowd from the steps of the Town Hall yesterday, added: “3 April should be a day of unity against Islamophobia and hatred – well done Islington.”

Islington Council’s transport chief Claudia Webbe also made a speech. She later described the event on Twitter as a “powerful statement” that showed “unity against racism and hate”.

The local organisers of the rally said on their ‘Islington Respect a Muslim Day’ Facebook page: “The outrageous ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ letter recently sent to homes across the country is yet another example of anti-Muslim hate crime which has doubled over the last year.

“We urge all anti-racists to stand together on this day to condemn utterly this act of terrorism against part of our community.

“We will not let any of our brothers and sisters be intimidated in this way. We will not let the racists push us off the streets. We will not let the racists divide us.”