Police investigate ‘disgusting’ hate mail and threats against Muslim businesses in Sydney suburb

Five threatening letters delivered to Muslim businesses and ­groups in Lakemba are being investigated by police, with more incidents believed to be going unreported. Campsie crime manager detective Inspector Paul ­Albury said the material was offensive and would be to anybody in the community.

“It’s degrading, disgusting and derogatory to people and their religion,” he said. “The reality is the groups targeted have no direct link with any conflict or with anybody that has been ­arrested. They are normal, everyday people going about their day-to-day business and they’re subjected to a level of hate which is quite stunning.”

The letters, believed to contain threats against mosques and the Islamic community, are an alarming response to recent terror raids across Sydney. It is a criminal offence to send offensive material through the mail.

The Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, and leaders of a number of Australian Muslim community organisations released a statement in response to an increase in incidents of abuse and discrimination against Muslim Australians in the past month. They called on anyone who may have suffered a hate or bias motivated crime to contact police or ­report it using a special Facebook page set up to register incidences.

The letters are the latest sign of rising tension in the south-west Sydney suburb following the terror raids in September. Earlier this month, a scuffle broke out between young people and Lakemba shopkeepers and rocks were reportedly thrown at businesses along Railway St.

However police said the community was not reporting incidents, instead ringing community leaders and councillors.

Canterbury councillor Karl Selah said he received a phone call from a shopkeeper on September 21, about youths causing trouble at businesses on Railway Pde. Cr Saleh called the police, who attended the scene. “My position has always been to refer crime issues to the police, and encourage shopkeepers and the community to call the police directly. I have always done it and I will in the future as well,” he said.

Insp Albury said police had increased patrols in the area and conducted safety audits, but more action was difficult to justify when there had been just six crimes reported by shopkeepers in the past year. “We have been told there are a host of issues occurring down there, but we’re finding no evidence in terms of reported crime,” he said.

Canterbury-Bankstown Express, 30 September 2014