Police officer warns of targeting Muslims

Britain’s Muslims have born the brunt of tough new anti-terror laws and increased police activity in the past few years, the country’s highest-ranking Muslim police officer has warned.

Tarique Ghaffur, assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan police, said despite police insisting their stop and searches are “intelligence-led”, they tended to be “based more on physical appearance” and are increasingly targeted at Muslims.

In a speech to the Association of Black Police Officers later today, he will warn that profiling threatens to “criminalise ethnic minorities” and cause them to retreat into themselves, away from the rest of society.

He is expected to call for a judicial review into why some young British Muslims are turning to violence, similar to that carried out in the wake of the 1981 Brixton riots.

“Not only has anti-terrorism and security legislation been tightened across many European countries with the effect of indirectly discriminating against Muslims, but other equally unwanted practices have also emerged, including ‘passenger profiling’ as well as increased stop and search and arrest under terrorism legislation,” Mr Ghaffur will say.

According to the The Guardian, he will add: “There is a very real danger that the counter-terrorism label is also being used by other law enforcement agencies to the effect that there is a real risk of criminalising minority communities.

“The impact of this will be that just at the time we need the confidence and trust of these communities, they may retreat inside themselves. We therefore need proper accountability and transparency round all policy and direction that affects communities.”

Muhammad Abdul Bari, head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), welcomed Mr Ghaffur’s comments. He supports the analysis that British Muslims are increasingly being stopped not because of intelligence, but because of what they look like.

“It is an important step that Tarique Ghaffur has taken to bring into the open the discrimination that is occurring and that he himself has experienced,” he told politics.co.uk.

“It is a courageous step and we hope the Met police will take steps to deal with the situation.

“It must be right to narrow the divide between Muslim youth and the police – in terms of intelligence gathering the benefits are self-evident. If many young Muslims feel alienated then they will not come forward with the required evidence.”

In the wake of the July 7th bombings, the government began a major drive to engage with the Muslim community and find out why four young British Muslims decided to blow themselves up on the London transport system.

But ministers rejected calls for a full public inquiry, insisting it would distract the security services from their work preventing other attacks. However, the MCB has long argued that it would shed light on the motivation for the suicide bombers.

Today Mr Ghaffur calls for a judicial review into why young Muslims turn to violence, saying: “We must think long and hard about the causal factors of anger and resentment. In particular, we need to adopt an evidence-based approach to building solutions.”