26th May 2015
Following comments over the weekend by a senior Metropolitan Police officer who suggested that signs of increased religiosity and an aversion to the store Marks & Spencers could be signs of extremism, the Muslim Council of Britain has written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner stating that such comments ‘demonstrate a startling disconnect between the police and Muslim communities’.
In a letter to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Muslim Council of Britain’s Secretary General Dr Shuja Shafi wrote today:
“The vast majority of the Muslim community who abhor terrorism are equally anxious to find the right answers to tackle terrorism. In this regard, we think deeper dialogue with the police and Muslim communities is crucial to ensure that measures proposed are effective.
We are in clear agreement about the need to prevent terrorism, as is the case with all crimes. We are also concerned about conflating religious conservatism with violent extremism. It seems this is not the case for some of your officers who are charged with community engagement. We would like to also understand whether your view aligns with that of Commander Mak Chishty who is reported to have said over the weekend that the police need to move into the “private space” of Muslims to see if they are becoming extremist.
Mr Chishty uses examples such as increased religiosity (e.g., aversion or abstaining from alcohol), children not celebrating Christmas and avoiding Marks & Spencer – all of which are hugely worrying. Such comments, if true, demonstrate a startling disconnect between the police and Muslim communities. It underscores our mutual goal to deepen dialogue between Muslim communities beyond the grip of privileged interlocutors.”[Ends]
- The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.
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