Suspect package sent to Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali and three other Muslim MPs
PUBLISHED: 15:48 13 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:55 15 March 2018
Rushanara Ali is one of four Muslim MPs who have received suspicious liquid substances in packages and Islamophobic race hate in the post.
The Bethnal Green & Bow MP received a package yesterday, Scotland Yard has confirmed.
Another package was sent at the same time to Ealing MP Rupa Huq, while others targeted were Bedford’s Mohammad Yasinand and Manchester’s Afzal Khan, all four being Labour Party members.
Rushasnara was alone in her Westminster office when she opened the package containing a sticky liquid substance.
“I handled package myself—my staff luckily weren’t here,” she told the East London Advertiser exclusively today.
“I recognised what it was straight away and didn’t touch it. I alerted the police immediately, then took steps to check everything else.”
The hate mail package arrived just days after Rushanara addressed the launch of the Women’s Manifesto for Labour for the local Tower Hamlets elections in May, in which she spoke of being the first Bangladeshi woman to become an MP.
A package containing a sticky liquid and ‘Punish a Muslim’ letter was sent to MP Rupa Huq’s office at the same time. A Parliamentary worker opening it was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Ms Huq said: “Someone out there thinks it’s open season on Muslims. It’s worrying that these things are getting through vigorous security screening.”
"This is totally unacceptable and I hope police catch those responsible and bring them to justice"
Specialist Met Police officers were brought in to assess the contents and another suspicious package which had been delivered soon after 9am yesterday to Westminster’s Norman Shaw Building where MPs have their offices. But no evacuation has taken place.
Ambulances were also sent to the scene and two members of Mr Yasin’s Parliamentary team were taken to hospital as a precaution after opening a package containing a suspicious liquid.
Rushanara today sought to assure her Bethnal Green & Bow constituents that she was unharmed.
She told the Advertiser: “I can’t say too much because of public anxiety—I don’t want my constituents being scared.
“But we can’t suffer in silence. This is totally unacceptable and I hope police catch those responsible and bring them to justice.”
The ‘hate’ letter sent with the suspect liquid has also been circulated to several locations across the country by what the MP believes is an extremist right-wing group.
Tower Hamlets’ Labour mayor John Biggs said later: “Rushanara Ali receiving a suspect package is unacceptable. Anonymous letters encouraging violent acts to ‘punish a Muslim’ are shocking and extremely distressing. Inciting people to carry out violent acts targeting particular communities will not be tolerated.”
Condemnation has also come from opposition groups on the council.
People’s Alliance’s Muslim leader Rabina Khan said: “The heinous hate letter headed ‘punish a Muslim day’ is shocking. No religion promotes violence and the majority of Muslims, such as myself, and followers of every other religion are peace-loving, tolerant citizens, who respect each other’s beliefs and differences.”
She calls for education to fight Islamophobia and not confuse Islam with radicals “to eliminate fear, stereotyping and misperception”.