Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The police and Muslims round up

The tabloid narrative about the Muslim takeover of Britain has continued with three stories in the last couple of weeks about the police doing things to be culturally sensitive, and therefore doing things which are totally objectionable.

First there was the 23 July story Muslims could get there own police force. The emphasis, of course, being on 'could'. But probably won't.

Behind this is the news that victims of crime in London have been able to ask for a Sikh police officer, a way of providing victims with support from the same religious or cultural background.

But because Sikh's arent the enemy, that isn't the news. Instead, the emphasis switches to another religion. Guess which one?

Muslim crime victims could gain the right to have their cases overseen by police from their own religion, it emerged last night.

So in the same way women officers often deal with female rape victims, Sikhs might get Sikh officers and therefore Muslims might get Muslim officers supporting them. Hardly controversial, and certainly nothing like a 'Muslim police force'.

Five days later, Mail clown James Slack got his knickers in a twist with Very PC police force issues its WPCs with Muslim headscarves complete with badge for mosque visits:

Women police officers are being issued with headscarves to wear when they visit a mosque. They are expected to put the scarfs on shortly before they enter the mosque, in keeping with Islamic custom.

Once again, it seems really difficult to understand the mindset where trying to do something to avoid offending someone's religion is regarded as a sop to extremists. How many people remove hats or caps when they go into a church? So why is putting on a head covering to enter a mosque deemed unacceptable?

In fact, the police have stated that the scarves could also be used to cover the exposed shoulders of plain clothes officers should they enter a church. But again, it's only the Muslim angle that is of interest to the media. Which includes the Express, Telegraph and Times, although the latter don't pretend it's wider spread than it actually is.

But notice how the first sentence deliberately makes the issue appear to be widespread. Every female PC entering a mosque has been issued with one, it implies. Well, not quite.

A few sentences later it admits this is only being done by Avon and Somerset Police. And then a bit later:

They have already been given to seven officers, including Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Roberts, and eight community support officers who work with Muslim groups in the area.

Right, so that's only 15 that have been given out in total and only 7 to police officers. That's out of around 143,000 officers in England and Wales. That is a whopping 0.005% of them.

Clearly it's an unstoppable tide of Muslim headscarves.

Then yesterday, it was South Yorkshire Police who were in the firing line. As part of an 'In Your Shoes' exercise, three female officers spent the day in various forms of Islamic dress.

Of course, when the Daily Star put their journalists in a burkha to 'see what it's like', they call it investigative journalism.

When the police do it, it's surrender. They're a 'bunch of burkhas' engaging in 'PC madness' and - according to the, sigh, Taxpayer's Alliance - a 'politically correct gimmick'.

The Star quotes one of the cops, Deb Leonard, who said:

'I have gained an appreciation of what Muslim females experience out in public in clothing appropriate to their beliefs.'

The Mail leaves her views to the last line, replying instead on the Taxpayers Alliance and the Christian People’s Alliance. No bias there then.

In return, four Muslim women

were shown around South Yorkshire Police’s custody suite and CCTV office and learned about the day-to-day duties of a police officer.

But if PC Leonard found it useful, and if it helped improve police relations with the Muslim community in Yorkshire - if only on a small scale - where those small measures could be important, what is the problem?

Indeed, any moves towards cultural sensitivity should be applauded. So why do the tabloids find these small events so significant, and so threatening?

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