Thu Jul 28th, 2005 at 08:02:04 AM EST
First the good news: The UK Special Police Units who shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes had the very best training in the world: Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission said that British police officers were sent to Israel for training on how to prevent suicide bombings. Former police chief John Stevens, confirmed this in the News of the World, saying that teams had been sent to the Middle East.
And then there is the training they receive in the US:
AMY GOODMAN: And so what kind of training do British police have in using guns?
AJMAL MASROOR: Well, I'm told they come to U.S. to get quite a lot of training to use the arms. And, of course, they have their own special training unit.
What happened on Friday was unfortunate, of course, but it's a tragedy that we should all remember. Shoot-to-kill policy can result in lots of victims, and I don't think and especially most people in this country, I believe, will agree with me that this is not a befitting tribute to those who have lost their lives in the 7th of July bombing. I think we need to be more cautious, and we need to use only appropriate force, if need be, after we have exhausted all the options.
Some Muslims are not taking comfort in this:
Writing in the Evening Standard Wednesday, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a prominent Muslim commentator, said it was not comforting for Muslims to learn that "the shoot-to-kill trick" was borrowed from Israeli marksmen.
British ethnic minorities could accept that because of the identity of the bombers, males with a similar racial profile would be stopped and interrogated, or that in extreme circumstances trained officers might need to fire at the arms or legs, she wrote.
"But we cannot accept that even in this emergency, our men and boys could find themselves shot dead because of confused intelligence. Or that every time they step out, we must say our final goodbyes."
"London is not Gaza," she added.
No, London is not yet Gaza, but it is developing along those lines. But not to worry, Baroness Falkner says there's nothing to fear: Such fear is regarded in some quarters as disproportionate. At a meeting at Scotland Yard on Monday, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Falkner urged ethnic minorities not to be afraid. "One terrible tragedy does not mean the entire ethnic minority communities of Britain need to fear for their lives," she said.
Maybe it's not just one terrible tragedy, Lady Falkner. Maybe it's time to wake up and smell the French Roast.
RACIAL PROFILING: THE WASHINGTON POST TAKES NOTE
In Britain, a Divide Over Racial Profiling
Mistaken Killing by Police Sets Off Debate
By Glenn Frankel and Tamara Jones
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, July 27, 2005; Page A01
LONDON, July 26 -- Seven bullets fired into a young Brazilian man's head by an undercover policeman who mistook him for a suicide bomber have set off an impassioned debate over the rights and wrongs of anti-terrorism tactics and racial profiling in one of the world's most ethnically diverse cities.
Ajmal Masroor, the 33-year-old director of a community relations group here, is a highly educated and articulate Muslim of Bangladeshi origin who is welcomed as a consultant and adviser in the corridors of power. Yet when he walks the highly patrolled streets of the Whitehall government sector these days, he said, he thinks twice because police have adopted a shoot-to-kill policy against people they deem to be active terrorists....
..."This is an Israeli model and it's a very dangerous model for London," said Ahmed Versi, editor of the weekly Muslim News newspaper. "We're getting many e-mails from young people who are worried. This is creating fear, and it is not helping the police."
Racial profiling by police has been a controversial issue here for decades. Under Britain's broad anti-terrorism laws, police can be granted "stop-and-search" powers to question anyone and, if they deem necessary, conduct a body search. Teams of officers can be seen at transit stations throughout the city scanning passengers. When finished questioning someone, they write out a form for the person that explains the reason for the stop and gives the shoulder badge number of the officer, in case the person wants to file a complaint.
Government statistics released last year showed that blacks were eight times more likely and Asians five times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than whites. Police officials have insisted they are doing all they can to curb profiling.
What Is It Like To Be The Prey?
A black Londoner told Black Britain that it is not unusual for innocent people to run from the police, especially when they are not in uniform. He said:
"I have been chased by police officers in the past for no reason when I was just going about my business.
They were wearing plain clothes so I had no idea they were police. I thought they were white guys who wanted to do me harm, so I ran."
Soldier Says Menezes Was Executed
A former soldier who does not wish to be named told Black Britain: "The three officers had already restrained the suspect in a position where he could not move, so to pump five bullets into his head was an execution." Black Britain: Your Bridge Across Races
Hate Crimes Soar in Britain as Police Defend "Shoot to Kill" Policy
A wave of anti-Muslim, Arab and South Asian hate crimes are sweeping Britain in the wake of the July 7th Subway and Bus bombings. Race and religion-based attacks are up 500% and communities of color are concerned that law enforcement authorities are also racially profiling targets in their anti-terrorism campaign.
AJMAL MASROOR: The climate in Britain, as you have summed up very well, and that is one of fear, and the other is of anxiety. Fear by the communities, all communities, just in case we get any of our city bombed again. And the fear amongst the minority communities, such as Muslims, is the fear of reprisal. Many mosques have been attacked, many individuals have been attacked. One person was beaten to death. So there is a great deal of fear. And the sister of the gentleman who lost his life so tragically in London by the police shoot-to-kill policy summed it up. You need to use brain, not brute force. And that's the fear that's engulfing the community across the U.K. at the moment.
AMY GOODMAN: We are talking to Ajmal Masroor, spokesperson for Islamic Society of Britain. Can you talk about the increase in the attacks on Muslims, on Arabs in Britain on people of South Asian dissent?
AJMAL MASROOR: Yes, we can. In a small village last week, when I came out of my car, a group of young people shouted, "Oh, terrorists have landed." Now this is nothing abnormal since the July the 7th attack in London. People up and down the country are facing a great deal of reprisal. I receive emails on a daily basis. I know organizations who service, and the internet network has been completely destroyed because of hate mail. One organization received 30,000 emails within a couple of hours after bombing. Now unfortunately, what we don't want is we do not want the terrorists to win. And if people play into the hands of terrorists, then react, and we see reprisals, then terrorists have won.
AMY GOODMAN: Ajmal Masroor, what about the number of Muslims, Asians, in the British police force?
AJMAL MASROOR: It is disproportionate. We don't have sufficient members of the Asian dissent or Muslim background in the police force. The police force over the last few years, they have been doing a pretty good job in getting their message across. I must say that once the bombing took place in London, police force in U.K. were behaving impeccably. Their language, everything that they did were very measured and very calculated and were correct. Only now that the shoot-to-kill policy that's come to light is bringing fear in the heart of the community. To say that there is enough police would be unfair. There need to be more visible Muslim, as well as ethnic minority police in the British police force.
AMY GOODMAN: Ajmal Masroor, what is your response to the Chatham House report, and also to the former foreign minister, Robin Cook, saying that the increase in attacks is related to the invasion and occupation of Iraq?
AJMAL MASROOR: I think increase and instability across the globe, not only in the U.K., but any other parts of the world where such brutal and heinous acts are being carried out in the name of whatever political cause, can all be related to some of the foreign policies, I'm afraid, of Britain and your country, America. And we do not want to give justification for any of these kind of attacks or criminal activities. But we, as civilized people, need to know the causes and remedy them. Otherwise, we will be labeled as people in denial, just like some of our governments are at the moment in denial.
DIANE ABBOTT, LABOUR MP
Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington Diane Abbott yesterday issued a statement in the wake of last Thursday's failed bomb attacks and the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes on Friday.
Ms Abbott said: "I want to make it clear to the Metropolitan Police that fear of terrorism should not mean that they adopt a shoot-to-kill policy on non-white young men, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"In these difficult times the police may well have to fatally wound suspects but it should be on the basis of better procedure and intelligence than appears to have been the case in relation to this tragic shooting in Stockwell."
The Labour MP went on to say how she was "shocked that an unarmed man could have five bullets emptied into his head in full view of the public for no other reason than being non-white", and in the wrong place."
She said that police procedures being employed in the hunt for the terror suspects should be closely scrutinized as well as the intelligence upon which police actions are based.
"We cannot have a situation where non-white men feel that they are at the mercy of a shoot-to-kill policy by the Met because they happen to fit the profile of a terrorist in a superficial way, for instance by carrying a rucksack", said Ms Abbott.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT RACE/HATE CRIMES?
I don't know. But I'll tell you what I'm doing... First I became a member of Black Britain: Your Bridge Across Races Next, I contacted my local InterFaith Council and volunteered time to write on issues that would create bridges across the Christian and Muslim communities. I am already a writer for Uruknet Italy, News From Occupied Iraq, and AlJazeerah Info, Georgia, so I feel I have those bases covered. Other than that, be careful out there, and put a good face on it.
HATE CRIMES RISE AFTER UK BOMBS
BBC; Thursday, 28 July, 2005, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Mosques are targets, the Islamic Human Rights Commission says The number of attacks on Asians has risen significantly since the London bombings, police and Muslim groups say. The number reported to the Islamic Human Rights Commission - not including those reported to police - has risen more than 13-fold, its chairman said. The total number of "faith-related" attacks reported across London rose 500% compared with the same period last year, the Muslim Safety Forum says.