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July 30, 2005
Top Muslim police officer urges community to engage with police
The Metropolitan Police’s highest-ranking Muslim officer Friday called for greater assistance from the Muslim community in capturing terrorists and those preaching terrorism, reports The Muslim News.
Speaking hours before the capture of two of the three remaining suspected July 21 suicide bombers in west London, Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur urged greater cooperation between the Muslim community and the police. His intention, he said, was “to reengage and reach out to the Muslim community.”
“I am talking as a police officer and as a member of the Muslim community. I am the highest ranking Asian and Muslim officer ” he said in launching his appeal at a mainly foreign media gathering at the Scotland Yard. He praised the Muslim community for “showing dignity and tolerance” in the aftermath of the July 7 attacks and welcomed the community’s unanimous “condemnation” of the bombings and for “their real willingness to assist”.
But the Assistant Commissioner called for even greater assistance.. “We need the community’s help in identifying terrorists and those preaching terrorism… People who commit mass murder are not martyrs but cold calculating murderers. It falls upon all of us to provide information.”
He cast aside concern raised by The Muslim News that the confidence in the police was at a low ebb due to a large number of innocent Muslims being stopped and searched, detained for hours or days and their houses searched because of their religion. “There will be a focus on the community as it is a reality and therefore there will be more stop and search,” Ghaffur said. He acknowledged the “difficult time” the Muslim community was going through when it is looked at “in suspicion” and whereby “mistakes” by the police are expected. But top Muslim officer warned against the feeling of such pressure leading “to the point of despair where we look inward and retreat from the mainstream and a sense of denial.” He insisted: “Not engaging in the mainstream should not be the norm…. it is time for leadership from within.” Ghaffur said there was a complaints procedure and those affected should make complaints. “We are urging the community to work with us and understand the situation we are facing.”
He also called on the Muslim community to continue to report hate crimes. “If people don’t report what we call low level crimes we can’t tackle it.” The reporting of religious hate crime has risen from 38 in 2004 to 242 this year (July 6 to 22), Ghaffur put this down to increased confidence in reporting crimes, better record keeping and better relations with the police.
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