"Defiance, dignity and solidarity."

Those are the words faith leaders in Waltham Forest and Redbridge want people to remember as they try to tackle racism in wake of 'Punish a Muslim Day.'

People were horrified to receive letters calling on them to carry out acts of violence against Muslims on April 3. The letters lists violent acts with 'points' awarded for performing them.

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Today, they all signed a statement condemning the attacks and urging everyone to stand up to Islamaphobia.

Community organisations including Stand Up to Racism, Waltham Forest Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) and the Waltham Forest Islamic Association also came together with residents and mosques to organise a display of unity.

The day began with a gathering in Walthamstow Town Centre.

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Saira Mir, one of the key organisers, from Walthamstow, said: “We are all standing together in solidarity, as a gesture of love and friendship."

Supporters also met outside the Faizan-e-Islam mosque on Lea Bridge Road to circle the mosques with linked arms and are meeting again at Lea Bridge Road Mosque this evening.

Both mosques have also opened their doors to the public for the afternoon.

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Community leaders signed a letter of solidarity stating: “Every person should be able to practice their religion and live their lives free from hatred and persecution.”

Rabbi Richard Jacobi from South Woodford Liberal Synagogue said: “I have no hesitation in condemning the nasty, hateful letters and in encouraging all people to show that we stand together as one community, one humanity.”

He explained how the day coincides with the religious festival of Passover.

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"We recall what it is like to be persecuted simply for being who we are," he added.

"We celebrate a journey from slavery to freedom, and we acknowledge that there cannot be complete freedom and tranquility until all are able to be themselves in society."

Canon Steven Saxby from St Barnabas Church in Walthamstow said: "The 'Punish a Muslim' threats, the rise in anti-Semitism & the increase in hate-crime affecting other faith communities all show it has never been more important for us to defend our rich and vibrant multi-cultural, multi-faith society.

"Racism cannot be ignored. We must stand up to it in all its forms.”

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Aslam Hansa, the operations manager at Noor Ul Islam in Waltham Forest said there had been support from all sides of the community.

“Just like whenever there is any threat of terrorism, we all rally together to support one another,” he said.

“We’ve heard comments, people saying stay at home, don’t go out, don’t go to work.

“Our advice is to carry on with life as normal”, but to be more vigilant."

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Suleman Ahmed, a volunteer at Waltham Forest MEND, said: “When I first saw the letter, I think initially it was disbelief. I think we were just sort of thinking that it was some sort of a sick joke.

“There will always be some people who will be quite apprehensive. Most people will be going about their daily lives. We’ve said be vigilant.

“We’re not asking people to stay at home. We’re saying go about your daily lives.”

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Parents have been distributing ‘Stand Together against Islamophobia’ stickers at school gates to show Muslim children and parents that there is solidarity and support locally.

Parent Sonali Bhattacharyya said: I was very disturbed and angry about the 'Punish a Muslim' letters, especially when I read Muslim schoolchildren were scared about what might happen to them.

"Our daughter goes to a friendly, inclusive, community-minded school, and I gave out ‘We Stand Together’ stickers.

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"I wanted her Muslim schoolfriends and families to know how much support and solidarity there was for them locally. I thought it was important to raise awareness about it - otherwise there's a danger of it being swept under the carpet and only those affected having to deal with the fear and distress.

"Everyone I offered a sticker to was very supportive, and I had a number of conversations that strengthened the ties we have with one another as parents, teachers, and pupils at the school.”

Sophie Bolt, the chairman of the Waltham Forest Stand Up to Racism group, said: “We know that people have been very anxious about this.

“An attack on the Muslim community is an attack on us all. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community.

“It’s in a context where you’ve got an increased amount of hate crime, a large proportion of it is targeting the Muslim community. This was why we felt it was so important that we had a visible presence in the borough.”

“We want to be public, we want to be really visible so people know we will not tolerate this attempt to terrorise our community."

Lorraine Huddle, the secretary of Waltham Forest Stand up to Racism said: ‘I’m really proud that Stand up to Racism has acted so quickly and effectively to help bring people together to stand up to the cowardly bullies who have threatened our Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues.”