People in Leeds urged to support Love A Muslim Day

Shahab Adris, who thought up the #LoveAMuslimDay, which has been picked up worldwide
Shahab Adris, who thought up the #LoveAMuslimDay, which has been picked up worldwide
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Leeds-based campaigners are behind national "Love A Muslim Day" events tomorrow which aim to counter a twisted social media and letter hate campaign.

Hundreds are expected to attend events in Leeds city centre, as well as Wakefield, Bradford and Sheffield, and across the country, in the wake of the hateful Punish A Muslim Day letters.

The offensive letters, offering points for committing different violent acts against Muslims, were posted to homes, businesses and politicians last month, causing alarm amongst many.

Shahab Adris, from Muslim Engagement and Development, a not-for-profit organisation based on Roundhay Road, in Leeds, which aims to improve Muslim participation in public life and tackle Islamophobia, was behind the Love A Muslim idea, which has gone viral, being picked up as far afield as the US, Australia, Africa, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Mr Adris said the letters - sent to a mosque in Leeds and a councillor in Bradford among others - had tried to sow fear in the heart of Muslims and MEND had been contacted by many people, particularly mothers, who were scared to let their children go out.

But he said they were encouraging them to come to the events. "We have been in touch with South Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Police and they have said there will be a higher number of patrols especially in public spaces. They will be doing what they can with their limited resources. We want people to go on with their daily lives."

#LoveAMuslimDay will be celebrated at Leeds Art Gallery tomorrow

#LoveAMuslimDay will be celebrated at Leeds Art Gallery tomorrow

He said the idea of #LoveAMuslimDay came the day after the letters arrived. "We knew the police were doing their job but we couldn't let this hatred spread within our community. It was a bit of a brainwave and I thought let's turn the letter on its head.

"It looks like it has gone all over the world. Many groups, organisations and individuals will be celebrating #LoveAMuslimDay across the country.

"It tells us what people are actually yearning for in an Islamophobic landscape, with the media and certain politicians, the Far Right and the casualist Islamophobia many are experiencing.

"People were rather relieved to see something like this."

Everyone is welcome to the events. Free food from different countries will be served at the Leeds event, from 12pm to 2pm, at Leeds Art Gallery, and there will also be speakers, a band, and a release of peace balloons.

The Bradford event is from 5pm to 7pm in Centenary Square, Wakefield's will be outside Wakefield Cathedral at 12pm and Sheffield's at Sheffield Town Hall from 5pm.

Kane Pigford.

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