Thursday, October 05, 2006

Morals or safety at the Israeli embassy – we need to know

The media has got themselves in a muddle over the case of PC Alexander Omar Basha, the Muslim police officer moved from guarding the Israeli Embassy. The Sun, which broke the story this morning said that PC Basha was moved on ‘moral grounds’. The Muslim Association of Police Officers have said the reasoning was based on the officer’s ‘welfare’. (See this BBC news article.)

Scenario 1: Credible and specific threat – moved on grounds of welfare

If PC Basha has received credible and specific threats against the welfare of himself or family because he is guarding the Israeli embassy (presumably from Muslims who are against Israeli foreign policy) then his reassignment could be considered on safety grounds. If PC Basha was to publicly state that he was to remain guarding the Israeli embassy despite threats this would be a courageous gesture. It would demonstrate that he believed that violence towards any party in the Middle East was unacceptable even if he believed that Israeli foreign policy was fundamentally flawed. However this decision would be a difficult personal one and he should not be blamed if he decided not to take it.

Scenario 2: No credible and specific threat – moved on moral grounds
If PC Basha has received no specific or credible threat against himself and has been moved only on moral grounds then this is unacceptable. It indicates that either he is a pacifist and does not believe in the use of force (in which case he cannot be a police officer) or it indicates that he believes that people have the right to physically attack the Israeli embassy and those working there and representing Israel. Even if PC Basha fundamentally opposes and objects to Israeli foreign policy (the Sun claims that he has taken part in anti-war marches over the recent conflict in Lebanon) he cannot even tacitly support individual’s desire to harm Israeli property or people. He must either resign or guard the embassy.

It’s still not clear which scenario is in play. We need clarification from the Met as soon as possible.

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