Muslims Are Handing Out Letters And Roses To London Bridge Mourners To Fight Islamophobia

"The best response is with love, compassion, empathy, and communication to empower our unity, cohesion, and solidarity."

Earlier this week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan delivered a powerful speech about Islam following Saturday's fatal terrorist attack which claimed eight lives and injured dozens. Khan, the first elected Muslim mayor of a European city, explained that Muslim extremists in no way act on behalf of the entire religion. Now, a group of Muslim families are working to continue to spread this message to combat Islamophobia — through roses and letters that explain why they believe terrorism "has no religion." 

London-based student Catrin Elen Hughes and her friend Emily Askill were paying their respects on London Bridge— one site of Saturday's attack — when they were approached by a man who explained he was a Muslim and offered them each a flower and envelopes. Inside the envelopes were letters written by a Muslim family originally from Turkey who are currently living in Kingston upon Thames, a town in the south west area of London. The nearly three-page-long letter explains their community's anger with Muslim extremists and sorrow over the loss of lives through terror.

"He seemed very genuine and it was an incredibly thoughtful and compassionate thing to do," Askill told A Plus about the man who handed it to them. 

Hughes posted the letter on Facebook and shared her experience

"We are your Muslim friends and neighbors originally from Turkey living in Kingston upon Thames," the missive begins. "This letter and the rose to you are with our sincere intention of a humble contribution to the unity, cohesion, and solidarity of our local community and of our broader society, in response to the recent terrorist attacks in London and in the U.K."



"The attacks yesterday night in London left us with a further pain and disappointment. Then, such feelings pushed us not to be shy to extend our humble response against terrorism with this letter and rose from our hearts," the letter continues. "Terrorism is a fatal disease in the body of humankind that requires full-scale, precise, diagnoses, and resolute, meticulous treatment ...The best response is with love, compassion, empathy, and communication to empower our unity, cohesion, and solidarity." 

The letter goes on to quote the Qur'an several times, as a way of illustrating some of the true tenets of Islam, including the importance of comprehension and analysis and the prohibition of murder, which goes directly against the attackers' actions.

Hughes, who works in a hospital and frequently comes in contact with people of different nationalities, religions and ethnicities, told A Plus that reading the letter moved her to tears. "The idea that this person [and his] community feels they need to compensate for these individuals' actions is really very sad," she said. 

In an effort to help spread the message, Hughes felt compelled to share the letter online. 

"I thought it was the least I could do," she said, adding the hospital she works in rallied to "prepare for the incoming casualties" last Saturday night. "This gentleman was standing in the rain handing out envelopes and roses to anyone he could. He clearly feels passionate about this cause and I thought it might be helpful to him if I shared his message with as many people as I could."

In sharing the letter, which concludes with a call for unity and continued thoughts and prayers for the victims, Hughes wishes to encourage reflection in others. 

"I hope, quite simply, that it makes people around the world think about the issue at hand, that is, religious and cultural differences and how we react to them. I'm not particularly vocal about these things normally, but I believe the way we are going to achieve a more peaceful society is by learning about each other's differences," she said. "If sharing this gesture offers even a few people an insight into the thinking of a community that's different to their own, then that's great. If it goes as far as changing perceptions, then all the better."

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