POSTERS have been stuck on lampposts around Rayleigh depicting attacks on people in Islamic clothing.

At least a dozen of the posters, carrying a white supremacist logo, have gone up with the message “Islamists not welcome”, and “stay back or we will kick you back”.

They appear to contain a picture of a knight on a horse with a lance, chasing two figures holding an AK47, with one dressed in a Burka.

They have been reported in Clarence Road, Grove Road, Eastwood Road, as well as Rayleigh High Street.

One was even posted directly outside the police station.

Yet Essex Police did not brand the posters a hate crime despite the content and logo.

A spokesman said: “We are aware of stickers placed in various locations around Rayleigh displaying messages including ‘Islamists not welcome’. We are keen to speak to those responsible for them to discuss their intent.”

However, others were clear as to what the intention was.

Ahmad Khwaja, chairman of the Southend Ethnic Minority Forum, said: "It is both worrying and disappointing that anti Islamic posters have been appearing on walls and lampposts in Rayleigh. 

"This Islamophobia is fuelled by ignorance and it is likely that the people posting them have had little or no contact with any Muslim people in their own lives. 

"Sadly anti-Muslim bias is prevalent and has become normalised in the media and politics today.

"It is therefore yet to be taken as seriously as other hate crimes such as those of anti-Semitism or homophobia. Just this week the Government rejected a working definition of Islamophobia, demonstrating how crimes against Muslims are just not taken seriously. Until this happens, I am afraid that anti-Muslim activity, be it Islamophobic posters or physical attacks on Muslims, will continue.  

"Bigotry and hatred should be challenged by us all, wherever it raises its ugly head.

"I hope that Essex Police is taking the necessary steps to find the culprits and that the posters will be removed as a matter of urgency. 

"I also hope that appropriate action will also be taken against websites and other online hate groups where these messages of dis-harmony and division are promoted.

"The Southend Ethnic Minority Forum rejects all forms of hatred and will always strive to foster strong ties and cohesion between all groups and members of our society."

A spokesman for Rochford Council said: “We will be working with the local policing team and community safety partners in relation to this matter.”

Shoppers and families were outraged at the abuse too.

One, who contacted the Echo about the stickers, said: “It is absolutely vile. I did not expect to encounter stickers and branding like this these days, especially not in a place like Rayleigh.

“I thought we lived in a tolerant society but clearly not.

“I know Brexit has caused some tension but I did not think we had people like that, with those thoughts, in this area.”