David Parnham, an open white supremacist who called himself the “Muslim Slayer” and who sent packages of fake anthrax to his enemies, has been sentenced to a little over 12 years in prison for his “Punish a Muslim Day” campaign that he helped spread in the UK last year.
A 36-year old IT systems analyst from Lincoln, Parnham sent out a series of anonymous letters to the public early last year, including to numerous British mosques and MPs, that there would be a “Punish a Muslim Day” on the 3rd of April, in which he hoped to encourage a day of attacking Muslims.
Claiming that the West was being “overrun” by Muslims, Parnham created a scoreboard for participants to compete against different types of attack, ranging from pulling off women’s hijabs to acid attacks, torture and bombing mosques, and even “butchering” Muslims with knives and guns.
Parnham also sent letters to numerous British mosques, which included drawings of Muslims being beheaded with a swastika-covered sword. He signed these letters as “Muslim Slayer”.
While the actual day passed without major offences, the trauma felt by both the Muslim community and other minorities were severe. Tell Mama research showed that the “Punish a Muslim Day” did in fact rise the levels of Islamophobia in the country, with 37 offline Islamophobic incidents directly referencing Parnham’s campaign.
The head of the Counter-Terrorism Policing in northeast London, Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, stated about Parnham’s affect on the Muslim community:
This case has affected a substantial number of victims and its impact has been felt across the country and overseas…the abusive, racist, and threatening language used in the letters was deeply concerning and created considerable distress which cannot be underestimated.”
During the trial of Parnham, it was revealed that he was both radicalized and inspired by the American white supremacist and terrorist Dylann Roof, who shot to death nine African-American worshippers in a Charleston church in 2015.
Writing a fan letter to Roof in 2016, Parnham wrote:
I just wanted to thank you for opening my eyes. Ever since you carried out what I’d call the ‘cleansing’, I’ve felt differently about what you’d call ‘racial awareness’. My main reason for disgust is Muslims.”
Parnham has now admitted to 15 different offences, ranging from soliciting murder to the involvement of hoaxes that included bombs, and will sit behind bars for 12.5 years.
While the sentencing of one white supremacist and Islamophobe sets an important precedent for future acts of violence and terrorism from right-wing extremists, it still remains as one of the most pressing issues in our world today. With blatant Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, and anti-immigrant rhetoric on the rise, it becomes more important than ever to properly persecute and respond to the rise in neo-fascist acts of violence.