In recent years, anti-Muslim sentiments and attacks have been on the rise in the United Kingdom. Last year, people in different cities across the UK received a letter titled "Punish a Muslim Day" in an attempt to spread hate towards people of the Islamic faith.
The letter, printed on A4 paper, promised people rewards for committing certain acts of violence - from verbal to physical abuse - towards a Muslim. For example, removing a woman's hijab is worth 25 points, murdering a Muslim is valued at 500 points, and bombing a mosque 1,000 points.
The man behind the vile campaign has now been jailed for 12 and a half years. David Parnham, who referred to himself as the "Muslim Slayer," will serve his sentence at a hospital. Once health conditions improve, he will be transferred to a prison. Parnham is also responsible for a number of other hateful letters sent to the Queen, David Cameron, and Theresa May.
The judge on the case said Parnham had been suffering from an "autistic spectrum disorder but rejected the suggestion he was psychotic at the time of the offenses," according to The Independent.
The 36-year-old admitted to several offenses including "soliciting murder, encouraging crime, bomb, and noxious substance hoaxes and sending letters with intent to cause distress."
"You have yet to appreciate the seriousness of what you have done and seem to want to return to the community at the earliest opportunity to live with your parents," Judge Anthony Leonard QC told the court on Tuesday.
Despite the hate spread by Parnham, love prevailed following his spiteful letters. A beautiful campaign under the hashtag #LoveAMuslim saw hundreds of thousands of people share their love towards the Muslim community at the time.
This is not to say the "Punish a Muslim Day" campaign is an isolated Islamophobic incident. One British politician is actually to blame for a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments.
New research by Tell Mama, an activist group monitoring anti-Muslim activity, found that there was a 375 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents from the week prior to Boris Johnson's comments to the week after. In August 2018, the British politician expressed his views in a column titled "Denmark has got it wrong. Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous – but that's still no reason to ban it," in reference to Denmark's recent ban on face veils. In it, Johnson said Muslim women who wear full-face veils "look like letterboxes" and "bank robbers". He also called the burka "oppressive."
In the week following the column's publication date, 38 cases of anti-Muslim incidents were reported to the police. Of those incidents, 22 involved "visibly Muslim women who wore the face veil," the report states.
So, anti-Muslim sentiments are grounded in some politicians' mindset. Islamophobia within the UK's Conservative Party is a problem that has been previously addressed on numerous occasions.
Senior Muslim Tory Baroness Sayeeda Warsi confirmed the existing Islamophobic attitudes within the party in 2018.
"I know within my own party there are almost now weekly occurrences of Islamophobic incidents and rhetoric," she said at the time.
A number of members of the Conservative Party have used Islamophobic sentiment for their own political gain. In 2016, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) called for an urgent inquiry into Islamophobia within the political party.
"Just as the Labour Party is rightly conducting an inquiry into antisemitism, it is important for the Conservative Party to reflect upon the extent of Islamophobia in its own ranks. We should have zero tolerance for both antisemitism and Islamophobia," said Dr. Shuja Shafi, secretary-general of the MCB.