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Thursday, October 05, 2006 

Scum-watch: The sky is falling!

You know it's a slow news day when such an utterly ridiculous, prejudiced story makes all the headlines. This morning's Sun, in typically outraged and sensationalist fashion, screams "COP OUT". The story written by the piss-poor crime editor Mike Sullivan (who has past form, having a hand in the laughable terror camp school reports and the house of horrors that wasn't) alleges that a Muslim officer was excused guarding the Israeli embassy on "moral grounds" because he objected to the bombing of Lebanon by the IDF.

THE decision to excuse a Muslim cop from guarding the Israeli Embassy was last night branded “the beginning of the end for British policing”.

Critics slammed the decision. Ex-Met Flying Squad commander John O’Connor said: “This is the beginning of the end for British policing.

“If they can allow this, surely they’ll have to accept a Jewish officer not wanting to work at an Islamic national embassy? Will Catholic cops be let off working at Protestant churches? Where will it end?

“This decision is going to allow officers to act in a discriminating and racist way.”

Mr O’Connor added: “When you join the police, you do so to provide a service to the public. If you cannot perform those duties, you leave.

“The Metropolitan Police are setting a precedent they will come to bitterly regret. Top brass granted his wish as they were probably frightened of being accused of racism. But what they’ve done is an insult to the Jewish community.”

Another angry policeman said: “This decision beggars belief. It goes against everything the police should stand for — providing a service to the public no matter who they are.”

PC Basha, attached to the Met’s Diplomatic Protection Group, asked for special dispensation not to work at the embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens, Central London. The officer, in his late 20s, has taken part in recent anti-war protests.

As usually happens with self-serving moral outraged articles printed by the Sun newspaper, the whole basis for the Sun's story has began to fall apart:

The decision not to deploy a Muslim police officer to guard the Israeli embassy in London was taken on "risk and safety" grounds and had nothing to do with political correctness, a senior Metropolitan police officer said today.

The Met's deputy commissioner, Paul Stephenson, insisted that PC Alexander Omar Basha's alerting of superiors about his reservations to being deployed at the embassy "during the height of the Israeli/ Lebanon conflict" in August was encouraged by force policy.

He also added that the service's officers "put their duties above their political, religious or ideological views" every day and that the impartial policing of all communities was fundamental in Britain.

"In all its personnel management issues, the MPS encourages officers to be up front and honest to highlight any matters that may impact on them conducting their duties," Mr Stephenson said. "At the height of the Israeli/Lebanon conflict in August this year the officer made his managers aware of his personal concerns, which included that he had Lebanese family members.

"Whilst the Israeli embassy is not his normal posting, in view of the possibility that he could be deployed there, a risk assessment was undertaken, which is normal practice. It was as a result of this risk assessment - and not because of the officer's personal views, whatever they might have been - that the decisions was taken temporarily not to deploy him to the embassy. The public would expect us to conduct such a risk assessment and review the suitability of any firearms officer undertaking such duties.

"This is not about political correctness. I want to make it clear that this decision was taken on the basis of risk and safety."

Whoops! Nowhere in the Sun article, now even that it's been updated, is the fact that his wife is Lebanese and his father Syrian, or the possibility that he could have relatives out in Lebanon where the Israelis subjected the south to nearly a month's worth of bombing, resulting in the deaths of over 1000 civilians. Neither is it mentioned that the Israelis in the last few days of the war with Hizbullah launched hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs, of which as many as 100,000 did not explode, a military decision which the UN called "completely immoral". If one of his relatives had been killed in the bombing, it seems highly unlikely he would have been given such an assignment on compassionate grounds.

The inference from the Sun article is clear. If Muslims can't be trusted to guard sensitive areas, then why should they be in the force at all? That they seemingly attempt to smear him by saying that he has attended anti-war protests, with the unwritten but obvious point being if you go on those marches, you're obviously either an extremist or a Marxist pacifist wet. This is made even less subtle by the linking in of a long forgotten Palestinian bomb attack on the building in 1994, which thankfully didn't kill anyone. The article as a whole is typical of the Sun's tactics in attempting to divide and rule, while claiming that it fully favours integration. You can't imagine the Sun dedicating its front page to a case of a policeman refusing to perform duty at a gay pride parade. Indeed, a recent case involving 9 firemen who refused to distribute fire safety leaflets at a gay pride march in Scotland, some of whom objected on "moral grounds" has not garnered a mention in the Sun newspaper.

The reality of the case is that the officer was worried not by moral issues, but by what could have happened to him if he was seen guarding the embassy during a time of strain between the local communities. The Sun is the first to remind us of the danger of fanatical Islamists - it's not hard to believe that they wouldn't take kindly to the idea of a Muslim guarding what is by definition Israeli territory at a time of war, especially as his wife herself is Lebanese. The BBC reports that the man is now back on diplomatic protection duties, and has no problems with carrying out his job.

Sir Ian Blair's decision to launch an inquiry, when it's already obvious that simply talking to the officer involved and those who made the decision would have revealed the truth, shows how sensitive he is to claims that the police now goes out of its way to be politically correct. This is the same police force which only 6 years ago was called "institutionally racist" by the Macpherson; claims that it's gone too far in the other direction are laughable, as shown by the contempt that has surrounded the police's response to the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes (septicisle passim ad nauseum), as well as the smears and distortions which followed the arrest of the Koyair brothers, which by a strange coincidence mainly featured in the Murdoch press.

The article doesn't take in to account Israeli sensibilities either. Muslim countries that offered to send troops to perform peacekeeping in Lebanon were unceremoniously told that they were not welcome.
It seems unlikely if those in charge on the Israeli embassy were informed of his familial line and relatives in Lebanon that they would have been too pleased with him guarding the place, especially during the conflict itself. Some might call such a move paranoia, but Israel has always wanted to be safe rather than sorry.

The whole issue then is as MPA member Peter Herbert put it, a "fuss over nothing" and a storm in a teacup, a piece of news which filled the vacuum on an otherwise slow day, the only other big story being Cameron's speech at the party conference, which the Sun's page 3 girl adequately covered, as Bloggerheads notes. It's little surprise that the Sun opened its mouth before being informed of the full facts, something that Rebekah Wade has been noted for in the past.

Related posts:
Big Stick Small Carrot - Those Evil Muuuuslems
Andrew Bartlett - Leak and Spin
Ministry of Truth - It woz The Sun wot spun it…

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