Women's Equality party candidate receives death threat signed 'Jo Cox'

Police called over racist letter sent to Nimco Ali, standing in Hornsey and Wood Green, and dozens of abusive phone calls

A candidate for the Women’s Equality party has received a death threat in a letter filled with racist abuse and signed “Jo Cox”, the party revealed on Wednesday.

Police were called to the offices of the party, where workers were being inundated with abusive and threatening calls in the run-up to Thursday’s general election, with one man telephoning to say he was 10 minutes away and they should be scared.

Angry, horrified, but not surprised. At @WEP_UK offices waiting for police after threats against staff & against @NimkoAli

— Catherine Mayer (@catherine_mayer) June 7, 2017

Nimco Ali, a prominent campaigner against female genital mutilation and the party’s candidate in Hornsey and Wood Green, received an abusive, racist letter that contained a death threat and was signed “Jo Cox”.

Ali told the Guardian she had been receiving online abuse for weeks, but that the police had been called after a specific threat was made in a letter sent to the party headquarters. “I’ve received abuse before for my campaigning work, but a death threat is different. It’s too much – I am strong but I am not superhuman,” she said. “You don’t agree with me, fine. But don’t threaten to rape me.”

She added: “They are targeting me because I am young, black and loud, I guess – but I am standing for good things. I want the world to be a better place. We have to show there is more love in the world than hate.”

Thank you for the love and support people. It is scary being a woman at the best of times, some people just want to make that harder.

— Nimco Ali (@NimkoAli) June 7, 2017

After sending a direct mailout to potential voters containing the address and phone number of its headquarters, the Women’s Equality party received dozens of abusive telephone calls. One man told two workers who were on their own in the office that he was 10 minutes away.

“This man said they should be scared,” said Catherine Riley, head of communications. “The woman who answered the phone said she would call police, and was told he wasn’t scared of the police and he could do what he wanted.”

The office had been bombarded on Tuesday by a “vituperous response” to the mailout, she added. “We’ve had dozens of calls from men shouting that we have enough equality, that we are idiots. It ramped up during the day.”

Riley said: “This is a general election – it is not right that this is happening. It’s not what politics should look like. It shows the desperate need for more diverse voices, and the reason why those voices are bullied out of the public sphere.”

Police have advised the party to upgrade their phone security, according to Catherine Mayer, who founded the party in 2015 with the broadcaster Sandi Toksvig. “The contemptible attempts to frighten @WEP_UK into silence *do* frighten us but won’t silence us. They strengthen our resolve,” Mayer tweeted.

“This is what happens to women who dare to take a little space for themselves. This is one reason there are far too few women in politics [...] Two of [the party’s] core goals are to increase female representation and end violence against women & girls. This illustrates how vital they are.”

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan police confirmed that a call had been received from the Women’s Equality party on Tuesday afternoon. “An appointment has been scheduled to take a report from the complainant,” she said.


Alexandra Topping

The GuardianTramp

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