London, Asharq Al-Awsat-The highest-ranking police officer in Britain and assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Tariq Ghaffur has stated that there is a growing need for greater cooperation between the Muslim communities and the police.
Ghaffur told Asharq al-Awsat yesterday that he believes that racially motivated hate crimes against Muslims since the London bombings have decreased to a lower level than expected. The assistant commissioner has presently taken responsibility for strengthening the relationship between Scotland Yard and various ethnic and religious groups. He told Asharq al-Awsat of the new internet service that enables the public to deal with the police via mobile phones. Ghaffur, who describes the new service as "unprecented for the British police," said that the new system will allow people to receive news bulletins that may include security warnings or emergency alerts within their area. The individual may receive this information as an e-mail or as a text message on the mobile phone. Subscription is available to everybody by following the instructions available on the following website address: http://www.police.uk
Tariq Ghaffur said that the new service aims to facilitate communication between the police and citizens, especially those from ethnic minorities. He added, "Approximately 10,000 citizens use the 24-hour telephone line that was opened last month." He further expressed his hope that "the new electronic messaging system will increase the scope of this contact to a large extent. We are also hoping to receive information about ordinary crimes." He stated that one of the main aims of the new telephone service is, "to re-assure members of minorities, to help them and to provide protection for them." As well as providing information, the news service will receive reports of hate-crimes on the following number: 08000 282390.
Asharq al-Awsat asked Ghaffur about the extent to which he expects Muslims to use the telephone hotline and their participation in cooperating with the police. He made a plea to Muslims and said that it is difficult to defeat terror "unless Muslims and non-Muslims stand united against it." He added, "we hope that they are more eager to contact us and inform us of any information that may assist us in our cause."
The assistant commissioner continued, "Let us be frank. I am part of this community as I too am a British Muslim. The community has information of which is useful to us in protecting all members of our society, in confronting the dangers of terrorism and in dealing with racially-motivated crimes." He pointed out that "reports can be made in Arabic, Urdu or any other language through the new internet service or telephone hotline." He added, "my appeal to them is to provide any information that may help us to be secure in our society and any other information concerning the crimes of racial-hatred."
Asharq al-Awsat asked the assistant commissioner about the level of these crimes that have targeted Muslims, especially considering that the official figures released a few days ago have been ambiguous and according to a number of Muslim organizations, have been inaccurate. Ghaffur answered, "Fortunately, London has not witnessed a racially motivated murder since the 7/7 attacks. There was also no large-scale damage or harm." He added, "This demonstrates the level of awareness among the various groups and their ability to unite after the attacks." However, he continued to say, "The number of racial attacks increased after the London bombings and the failed attempts on July 21. Nevertheless, the level has now dropped to less than the number of incidents last year and this is satisfactory. I know from my contact with various groups that we consider less-serious attacks such as damaging property or verbal abuse happen systematically, and the victims of such crimes do not perceive them as less-serious crimes as such an experience remains with them forever. Therefore, I hope that all Muslims will report any abuse that they are subject to and express their fears to us."
When reminded of the criticism that he made against the Muslim communities and the way in which mosques operate, Tariq Ghaffur denied much of what was reported about him recently in the newspapers. The newspapers claimed that he had criticized the reaction of the Muslim communities to the bombings. Ghaffur said, "Much of what was attributed to me in that interview was inaccurate, especially as I deeply sought to differentiate between certain mosques, and praised the ones that had taken strict measures to prevent those who preach hatred from using the mosque as their platform."