New Zealand, Tuesday, September 28, 2004
HATE: Somali community representative
Adam Awad (right) says someone is
trying to create tension between Muslim
and Jewish communities by posting Muslims
envelopes containing pork. Photo by Kent
stuffed with pork sent to Muslims
By Fran Tyler
RACIST hate letters, some
stuffed with pieces of pork, are being sent to
Community leaders say the campaign may be designed
to fuel racial tensions between Jews and Muslims.
Police are investigating the letters, which follow
two recent anti-Semitic attacks in the city.
The letters have been sent mainly to Somali
families in Miramar. One contained a cartoon
showing pigs carrying a coffin saying: "Muhammad
the Pig's Funeral." Next to the word funeral is
scrawled in Arabic the word "Amen". Another
contained a score card of conflicts between Israel
and Islam since 1948 -- and the message: "Get out
of Israel Islamic pigs."
Wellington Somali Council vice-chairman Adam
Awad said though the letters, which started
arriving late last month,
appeared to be the work of
Jews, he suspected they were from someone
trying to create tensions between the two groups.
"I believe these haven't come from the Jewish
community in Wellington. We know the Jewish
community in Wellington, we are friends."
The letters could be
the work of the people responsible for smashing
16 Jewish gravestones in the Bolton St Cemetery
in July, and 92 headstones and the arson of a
chapel at Makara Cemetery last month, he said.
"But nobody knows really where they have come
The Muslim community was "really very, very
worried". Most Muslims had viewed Wellington as a
safe place, especially when many were refugees who
had escaped violence and persecution, he said.
"Our community are really worried about how long
it will take before something more serious, more
violent, happens." Some of the victims were not
known to each other so the names could have been
selected from the phone book. He did not know how
many letters had been received because some
families were too frightened to come forward.
Zealand Jewish Council president David
Zwartz said he could not believe the letters
were the work of any Jewish groups or individuals.
To describe someone as a pig was so offensive to
Jews. "It is a line no one would sink under," he
said. "I think it is extremely unlikely that it
would come from anybody Jewish.
"The images and language are repulsive, and we
can understand the reaction of those who received
the letters, because the same associations are made
when people insult Jews." He thought it likely
that the letters were being used "as a deliberate
provocation" to drive a wedge between the two
It was more likely to be the work of a group
that hated Muslims and Jews, such as a white
supremacist-type group, he said. Constable Jeff
Attwood, of Kilbirnie police, said he received
a complaint from a Somali woman in Miramar who had
a third version of the letter. It contained a
variety of anti-Muslim statements and abuse.
Hers was the only formal complaint he had
received so far, but he knew of several other
people who had received letters. He would be
contacting them. He wanted to hear from others who
had received the letters. "Clearly it's a purely
racist thing and at the moment we haven't really
got any idea where it's come from." It was too
early to say whether they could be linked to the
attacks on the Jewish graves, he said.
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