Thursday, October 05, 2006

More discounts for the British Muslim Community:

A Muslim police officer was excused
duty guarding Israel's embassy
Met defends Muslim officer move

A Muslim police officer was excused duty guarding Israel's embassy for safety reasons, Scotland Yard has said. The Sun newspaper said the officer was reassigned on "moral grounds" as he objected to Israeli actions in Lebanon. The Diplomatic Protection Group officer, named as Pc Alexander Omar Basha, had Lebanese relatives.

But Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson said the move followed a risk assessment and was "not about political correctness". The decision to excuse the officer has been attacked by some former police officers and politicians, while being defended by groups representing officers.

Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair ordered an urgent review into the matter.

We're going down a very, very slippery slope if we then start having postings based on individual officers' conscience [Supt Dal Babu, Association of Muslim Police Officers]

Can the police say no?

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." He said that following a risk assessment "and not because of the officer's personal views whatever they might have been", a temporary decision was made not to deploy Pc Basha to the Israeli embassy.

"Our priority is making sure that any officer we deploy can have their mind on the job and make sure they discharge effectively and efficiently. "That's what a risk assessment is about, it is not about political correctness and we do not allow officers to pick and choose their deployment on the basis of their personal views."

The Association of Muslim Police Officers said it had been a "welfare issue" not a political one - with the officer having a Syrian father and a Lebanese wife.

The association said Pc Basha had asked to be excused from his duties because he felt "uncomfortable and unsafe". Superintendent Dal Babu, from the association, told BBC News Pc Basha was now back on diplomatic protection group duties and that "if an incident happens at the Israeli embassy he will deal with it". Supt Babu accepted that excusing officers from assignments because of moral beliefs would be unacceptable. "I think that we're going down a very, very slippery slope if we then start having postings based on individual officers' conscience," he said.

What we don't want is a situation where one particular section of the community is given special reasons for not performing duties because that will simply alienate the rest [Lord Mackenzie]

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