West Yorkshire: Leaflets attacking the murdered MP helping Muslims are distributed in West Yorkshire amid a warning of a rise in hate incidents.
The British National Party (BNP) has denied producing a leaflet encouraging hate crime against Muslims, as a report shows such crimes are on the rise.
The political party was accused of posting leaflets near the West Yorkshire town where Labour MP Jo Cox was killed, accusing her of taking “misguided action” by “helping Muslims”.
Labour MP Paula Sherriff told the Commons that the leaflets said Mrs Cox, who was shot and stabbed in Birstall on 16 June, had been “helping Muslims in the country who may now go on to join ISIS, alongside some other horrendous allegations”.
“Then I have received a significant number of communications from constituents, one – a seven year-old Muslim girl – was told on Friday (the day the EU referendum result was confirmed), I’ve removed the expletives from this for the purpose of this House, ‘it was the best day ever today, go home all of you’ to her and her family.”
Home Office Minister Karen Bradley promised to meet Ms Sherriff to discuss the “utterly unacceptable” leaflets and to look at what “specific action” can be taken.
The BNP, however, described news of the leaflets as “alarming”.
In a statement, a spokesman added: “Let me be clear, we have already stated that the murder of Jo Cox was outrageous and we find violence of any sort abhorrent, we also find this new affront disgraceful and we categorically deny any involvement in the production and distribution of this leaflet”.
“The BNP have notified the police insisting on a serious investigation using fingerprint and DNA technology to identify the perpetrators of this vicious act.”
Meanwhile, Tell Mama, a group monitoring such things, recorded 437 anti-Muslim crimes or incidents in the year to March, compared to 146 in the previous period: ending March 2015.
Among these, there were 219 related to verbal abuse, 74 involved assault and there were also instances of vandalism, discrimination and hate speech reported.
These incidents were classified as “offline” – they happened in person – as opposed to the extra 364 online crimes reported.
Women were the victims in 61% of cases, with three-quarters of the female victims described in the group’s study as “visibly Muslim”.
Shahid Malik, chairman of Tell Mama, said: “The statistics paint a profoundly bleak picture of the explosion of anti-Muslim hate both online and on our streets with visible Muslim women being disproportionately targeted by cowardly hatemongers.
“This exponential growth is testament to the fact that despite great efforts to fight anti-Muslim hatred, as a society we are still failing far too many of our citizens.
“With the backdrop of the Brexit vote and the spike in racist incidents that seems to be emerging, the Government should be under no illusions: things could quickly become extremely unpleasant for Britain’s minorities.”