Muslim community attacked by viral post on social media

Sarahy Lopez, News Editor

Several letters stated April 3  would be “Punish a Muslim Day”. They were sent out anonymously to various Muslim communities throughout late March in the United Kingdom.

The letter read, “They have hurt you, they have made your loved ones suffer. They have caused you pain and heartache. What are you going to do about it? Are you a ‘sheep’? Only you can turn this thing around, only you have the power. Do not be a sheep!”

Below the description contained a point-based system that “awarded” attackers of the Muslim community, such as 10 points for verbally abusing a Muslim; 25 points for physically attacking and pulling off the head-scarf of a Muslim woman and 500 points for murdering a Muslim with any weapon.

The letters were posted to social media, where many shared their concerns and thoughts on them, and the letters were shared worldwide.

NEIU President of the Muslim Student Association Nida Kidwai noticed the post on social media after her Muslim friends shared it on various platforms. She was shocked when she initially first read the letter and the point system.

“I had Muslim friends and colleagues asking me if it’s even safe for us to be going to school on that day or week,” Kidwai said. “I reached out to a couple people who reported to the NEIU police on behalf of us. (The police) responded quickly, reassuring us that not only was there no threat here in our community but that the officers will be doing extra patrols on and around campus.

“This definitely made me feel slightly safer. I was slightly on edge and very alert constantly watching my back from the school parking lot as I walked to the BBH building. Along the way, I was greeted by a smiling officer. This made me feel much more at ease,” Kidwai said.

“I’m very glad to be a part of this NEIU community who not only supports our diverse students but also protects each one of us equally,” she concluded.

On the Muslim Student Association (MSA) Instagram page, the group wrote “Muslims on campus: stay aware, travel with a buddy and say your prayers for protection. Take out some time to get to know your NEIUPD, as they are here for your safety.”

NEIU Chief of Police John Escalante told the MSA, “We are aware of the letter circulating on social media. The Illinois State Police (ISP) advised all police agencies within the state of this letter on Friday. I can assure you based on the latest information provided by both the ISP and the Chicago Police Department’s Crime Prevention and Information Center (CPIC) there are no credible threats in the state or Chicago area.

“A similar letter was sent via social media in May 2017 but did not get as much attention. ISP and CPIC are monitoring the situation and if they deem there are threats to any community in the State they will provide us with that update,” Escalante said.

“As far as what the NEIUPD can do for our NEIU community, we can certainly provide a more visible presence on campus and pay special attention to any classes or meetings the MSA would like to see a police officer,” he said.

Escalante was not able to provide comment before the publication of this article.

Further inquiries and concerns should be sent to NEIU campus police. The NEIUPD website also has more information on services that campus police can provide for students.