UK police arrest man over ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ letters

Islamophobic hate crimes in the UK have risen by more than 30 percent annually, police reports show. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2018
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UK police arrest man over ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ letters

LONDON: British counter-terrorism police have arrested a man on suspicion of sending letters entitled “Punish a Muslim Day” that urged people around the country to commit violent acts.
The unnamed 35-year-old from Lincoln in northeast England was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of sending letters conveying a threatening message and of sending a hoax noxious substance. He was taken to a police station for questioning.
“These letters seek to cause fear and offense among our Muslim communities. They also seek to divide us,” said Martin Snowden, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, in an earlier statement on the investigation.
“Yet in spite of this our communities have shown strength in their response to such hatred and in their support for each other.”
The letters, which designated April 3 as “Punish a Muslim Day” and proposed ranking acts of violence according to a points system, started arriving in some people’s post in March. Among others, four members of parliament with South Asian backgrounds received copies.
Media reports about the letters caused widespread outrage, with tens of thousands of people taking to social media to show support for Muslims with hashtags such as #LoveAMuslimDay and #WeStandTogether.
In the event, April 3 passed without any reported surge in anti-Muslim violence.
Hate crimes in Britain surged in 2016/17, according to official figures.
Significant factors included the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union, a goal linked to curbing immigration in the eyes of some Brexit supporters, as well as a spate of attacks by Islamic extremists in the first half of 2017.
Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism police officer said in February this year that Britain faced a new and significant threat from far-right terrorism.
In an unrelated case, an alleged member of a white supremacist group pleaded guilty earlier this week to planning to murder a female member of parliament with a 19-inch machete. The court heard he considered her a target because he perceived her to be pro-immigration.


European court to hear case on stopping Brexit

Updated 20 November 2018
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European court to hear case on stopping Brexit

LONDON: The European Court of Justice will at the end of this month begin hearing a legal challenge brought by anti-Brexit campaigners to force the government to spell out how Britain could revoke its notice to leave the EU.
The hearing comes after the British government was refused permission Tuesday to appeal to the UK Supreme Court over the case, amid growing calls for Prime Minister Theresa May to hold a second referendum on Brexit.
"The best, the really compelling, the objective evidence that all options are still on the table is the desperation with which the government acted to try and block MPs from seeing the clear path to remain," said Jolyon Maugham, a lawyer who has spearheaded the legal challenge.
The Supreme Court rejected a bid from the government for permission to appeal against a lower court ruling asking the European Court to spell out "whether, when and how" Britain can unilaterally revoke its notice to leave the EU, which would see the UK pull out on March 29.
Labour, Scottish nationalist and Green members of the British, Scottish and European parliaments brought the case through the highest civil court in Scotland.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled in September to refer the question to the Court of Justice of the EU.
A hearing at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is set for November 27.
The British government applied to the Court of Session for permission to appeal against the ruling to the higher UK-wide Supreme Court, but the application was rejected.
The government then applied directly to the Supreme Court itself for permission to appeal.
But in refusing that permission on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said the Court of Session's ruling was "preliminary" and the Scottish court would still have to reach a judgement of its own after receiving the CJEU's guidance.
Britain invoked Article 50, its two-year notice of intention to withdraw from the EU, in March 2017.