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Officers bring allegations of Islamophobia against the Metropolitan Police

Officers bring allegations of Islamophobia against the Metropolitan Police

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday February 22 2022

Fresh allegations of Islamophobia have been levelled at the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). According to media reports, Muslim officers were mocked when attending a local Mosque and a new “health and safety” rule was brought in requiring Muslim Officers to put their names on a board if they took a prayer break. Other officers were not required to do this for their breaks.

Sadly, such allegations are not isolated events. Another case of Islamophobia within the MPS is of former top officer, Nusrit Mehtab, who accused the MPS of being a toxic workplace and sued them on grounds of misogynistic, racial and religious discrimination. Her complaints included the sexist initiation culture, being made to wear men’s trousers, and that she was often singled out for her racial background, often patrolling alone. Not only did the Met fail in accommodating her religious beliefs, but officers often found it difficult to take orders from a woman who was a Muslim.

It is evident that these incidents are part of deep-rooted institutional problems within the Met. Earlier this month, MPS Commissioner, Cressida Dick, stepped down from her role after an investigation, led by the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC), uncovered exchanges of racist, misogynistic and Islamophobic messages sent between Met police officers. The IOPC stated “We believe these incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few ‘bad apples’”. Indeed, Dick stepped down after  the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan had made it clear that an urgent response was needed after the recent failings within the Met that made him feel “disgusted and angry”. Officers in closed WhatsApp groups with other colleagues were found to have sent messages such as: “Just walked past the big mosque all the fanatics turn up at to radicalize the young Muslims…”. As such, the removal of Cressida Dick was hugely welcomed as she was someone who many saw as part of the problem.

In fact, the appointment of Dick as Commissioner of the MPS served as a shock to many, in particular to the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian man misidentified and killed by the Met Police two weeks after the 7/7 bombings in London. In light of the recent Met failings, the cousin of de Menezes mentioned that she felt that Dick should have resigned in 2005 after the fatal incident in which De Menezes was pinned down and shot in the head seven times on the London Underground. Dick was the Senior Commander overseeing the operation, but no action was taken, and Dick was absolved of any blame. She simply conceded: “it is possible that an innocent member of the public might die in circumstances like this.” However, questions have been asked as to why the police perceived de Menezes as a threat and, in particular, why he was mistaken as a criminal suspect that happened to be Muslim.

Though the Commissioner has now stepped down, the issue of Islamophobia will still persist unless there is reform to address the culture of Islamophobia within the Met. Indeed, the nature of the WhatsApp messages and the fact they were sent on closed groups alludes to a deep cultural issue within the MPS. It comes across as Islamophobia being normalised behind closed doors and undermines the efforts of those working with the MPS in actually curbing Islamophobia.

The Met seems to be plagued with Islamophobic practices, just as it is with sexism and racism. The appointment of a new commissioner must not only address the issues promptly, but needs to work with the community to regain trust. MEND urges that any replacement must look into the practices and culture of Islamophobia within the MPS, while accepting the IOPC’s report wholly and implementing its recommendations, especially that the MSP should:

  • “assure itself that it is taking sufficient steps to eradicate racism from the force… [and] commit publicly to being an anti-racist organisation with a zero-tolerance position on racist behaviour.”
  • “build on the steps it has taken internally against bullying and harassment, by publicly committing to a position of zero-tolerance on bullying and harassment, which is embedded through messaging, guidance, training and on-going support for police officers and staff to proactively and robustly challenge such behaviour.”
  • “review and ensure its current training and guidance on bullying and harassment adequately covers when remarks that may be viewed by some as ‘friendly’ banter, can create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for others, and therefore be seen as ‘ignorant’ or ‘malicious’ banter by others.”

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