‘Punish a Muslim Day’ backfired spectacularly

Community members spent the day loving and protecting Muslims instead.

A Muslim woman walks along Fifth Avenue in New York City. (credit: Amir Levy/Getty Images)
A Muslim woman walks along Fifth Avenue in New York City. (credit: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Punish a Muslim Day was intended to scare and encourage violence against Muslims. But it ended up uniting communities instead. 

Communities throughout the United Kingdom and the United States came together on Tuesday to push back against the xenophobic anti-Muslim campaign that started in the United Kingdom and eventually spread to the United States.

The campaign first gained attention last month, when fliers and online posts threatening Muslims with hate crimes and violence first circulated among British residents. According to the BBC, several members of the parliament also received the Islamophobic letters.

Since then, the fliers trickled into the United States, with New York City officials announcing Monday that the city would seen an increase in security to protect potential victims of hate crimes. Police in the United Kingdom and the United States are still investigating the letters.


Meanwhile, U.S. and U.K. residents have taken matters into their own hands to support Muslims. Jamilla Hekmoun, who started the #ProtectAMuslimDay initiative in the United Kingdom, told BuzzFeed that the campaign aims to help people feel safe, given the uncertainty around where the letters have come from. Individuals can call a number if they feel threatened and want someone to walk or stay with them. According to BuzzFeed, more than 100 people have signed up to volunteer for the effort.

A #LoveAMuslimDay counter-campaign also circulated letters encouraging people to smile at or buy gifts for Muslims.

MEND Community, a U.K. anti-Islamophobia NGO, held a series of #LoveAMuslimDay events throughout the country, including art exhibits, spoken word poetry gatherings, and picnics.

Members of Citizens UK, a social justice organization, on Tuesday gathered at the Newcastle Central Mosque to form a human chain around the building in a show of protection and unity for the Muslim community.

In New York, as part of a campaign started by community activist Debbie Almontaser, non-Muslims wore hijabs and kufis and held signs stating #WeAreAllMuslim.

On Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told a group of faith leaders that the city stands in solidarity with its Muslim residents.


“Our message must be just as loud,” Adams said, according to the New York Daily News. “Not punish a Muslim, let’s embrace a Muslim, let’s embrace a Christian, let’s embrace a person of Jewish faith, let’s embrace the diversity that this city has to offer.”