It woz The Sun wot spun it…

Okay, so fisking the Sun’s hardly a demanding task, but this particular story just deserves getting the full treatment…

THE decision to excuse a Muslim cop from guarding the Israeli Embassy was last night branded “the beginning of the end for British policing”.

Of course no good story these days is complete without it’s apocalyptic preamble…

PC Alexander Omar Basha told chiefs he was unable to carry out duties at the London embassy — a top terror target — due to moral grounds after Israeli bombings in Lebanon.

What The Sun neglect to mention here is PC Basha’s ‘moral objection’ appears to stem from the fact that his wife is Lebanese and his father, Syrian; a familial connection that any reasonable person would consider as placing PC Basha into a rather difficult situation full of conflicting interests when asked to carry out diplomatic protection duties in connection with the Israeli Embassy, irrespective of his personal views of the conflict taking place at the time.

Let’s be clear about what’s going on here.

By disregarding PC Basha’s obvious and very initimate ‘connection’ with the recent conflict and casting his request to be assigned to other duties in terms of his simply being a Muslim, The Sun is quite deliberately seeking to frame PC Basha’s actions within the context of pan-national Muslim ‘solidarity’, which has long been a central theme in the propaganda of Islamic extremists. The implicit message that The Sun is seeking to send to its readership is, as ever, that of Muslims espousing a common religious identity that supercedes and preempts all other potential loyalties and identities, as Andrew Bartlett accurately notes

 

Of course, this all brings us back round to my first question. And we may now reframe it. The questions of who and why can be combined into a single question. Who is determined to paint Muslims as disloyal, unBritish, and subject to preferential treatment? Well, that sounds like the standard Melanie Phillips line, in other words, the line of the rabid anti-Muslim racist, unreflexively redeploying the standard anti-Semitic arguments but replacing the subject of their hateful stories with the modern bogey religio-ethnic group.

Andrew is, to my mind, correct in his view that this story is being deliberately spun to suit a particular agenda although I do have my doubts as to whether it’s quite the agenda he seems to think, but then the worst one can say about his particularly theory is that he’s slightly over-elaborating and overlooking the obvious, i.e. the raft of yet more Home Office legislation promised as the centrepiece of the upcoming Queen’s Speech by Tony Blair in his speech to the Labour Party conference, last week.

As interesting as that might be, however, it is drifting slightly off the point – and The Sun – which continues with…

Top brass granted his request last week, but Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair last night ordered an immediate inquiry after our story broke. He said: “Having learned of this issue I have asked for an urgent review of the situation and a full report.”

Is that really necessary?

Surely a ten minute conversation with whoever authorised PC Basha’s reassignement during the recent conflict and quick look over his personnel file is all that should be required to ascertain the precise reasons why his request was granted, and only if after that it was considered that an incorrect decision was taken would any actual review of policy be necessary.

To talk in terms of ‘inquiries’ and ‘reviews’ is little more than window dressing and the deliberate creation of the appearance of action specifically to placate the press.

If Blair had any balls he’d simply tell the press that an entirely legitimate and valid operational decision was taken in respect of PC Basha’s request, which is precisely what Deputy Commission Paul Stephenson has now done

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 was due to risk assessment – "not about political correctness".

And not before time… not least as the The Sun’s article now begins to get a bit more interesting…

Critics slammed the decision. Ex-Met Flying Squad commander John O’Connor said: “This is the beginning of the end for British policing.

So, here we finally come to the source of the articles ‘Chicken Little’ opening line… which turns out to be just the usual rent-a-mouth ex-Copper giving the full ‘Four Yorkshiremen‘ routine.

“If they can allow this, surely they’ll have to accept a Jewish officer not wanting to work at an Islamic national embassy? Will Catholic cops be let off working at Protestant churches? Where will it end?

Why?

Surely where such requests for reassignment are received, they would be dealt with on a case by case basis and with due reference and regard to the Police’s duty of care towards its officers and an employer, in which case one could well conceive of situations in which, yes, one would consider it innappropriate to assign a particular officer to certain duties if it was felt that this might expose them to an unreasonable level of risk or if there were mitigating factors in the personal background that might affect their judgment and, therefore, their capacity to perform their duties to the required standard.

Suppose, for example, the PC Basha’s familial connections with the recent conflict in Lebanon went so far as to include having lost a family member in the conflict? Would his request to be reassigned be an issue at all?

Almost certainly not, as in such a situation it would be thought uncivilised to refuse such a request in the face of such obvious compassionate grounds.

“This decision is going to allow officers to act in a discriminating and racist way.”

I must admit that I really do like this particular argument, which does a wonderful job of shooting itself in the foot.

Just follow the logic here…

O’Conner contends that the decision to allow PC Basha’s request to be temporarily reassigned will give the green light fto racist officers to make similar requests in order to avoid coming into contact with communities and cultures about whom they hold racist views.

So, simply on face value, the net effect of such a policy, if it were actually implemented (which it won’t be) would be to not only clearly identify who the racist coppers are but also take them out of front-line policing in situations where their less then enlightened attitudes might easily cause more harm than good…

Isn’t that beginning to sound rather like a win-win situation?

Of course, the reality is that no such thing would happen in reality and that one would reasonably expect that a request for reassignment of duties that was clearly predicated to prejudice and bigotry would be dealt with through disciplinary action and not a nice cushy desk job, but what it does illustrate clearly is O’Connor is putting forward a completely half-arsed and specious line of argument.

Mr O’Connor added: “When you join the police, you do so to provide a service to the public. If you cannot perform those duties, you leave.

And that requires a serving Police Officer to blindly accept whatever duties are assigned to them, irrespective of whether they might find a particular duty morally or ethically repugnant? Is that really what we want our Police Officers to be; mindless automatons devoid of all considerations but duty?

“The Metropolitan Police are setting a precedent they will come to bitterly regret. Top brass granted his wish as they were probably frightened of being accused of racism. But what they’ve done is an insult to the Jewish community.”

You’ll notice first that Mr O’Conner slips in thinly disguised dig at political correctness, even though his comment that the Met were ‘probably frightened of being accussed of racism’ indicates that he has no actual knowledge of the precise reason(s) why the Met acceded to PC Basha’s request to be assigned alternative duties during the recent conflict.

He then goes on to state that ‘…what they’ve done is an insult to the Jewish community’ – although whether this is indeed the case is entirely open to question as Mr O’Connor, one would presume, is not only not Jewish himself but also shows no particular signs of having even spoken to anyone within the Jewish community before wading in ‘battle’ on their behalf.

It remains to be seen whether ‘the Jewish community’ actually perceives Mr Basha’s request to be reassigned to duties other than the protection of the Israeli Embassy to be an insult, although no doubt one might well expect the odd bit of rhetorical nonsense in due course as the realisation sinks in that there might be a bit of political capital to be made out of this story.

However, before getting too caught up in the as yet hypothetical prospect that a self-appointed spokesperson for the Jewish community might have vaguely something to say on this subject that would be broadly in keeping with O’Connor’s comments, one needs to remember that PC Basha’s actual assignment related not to a local synagogue but to the Israeli Embassy and that if anyone’s views should be taken into account, its those of Israel’s diplomatic representatives and not simply one of the local ‘talking heads’.

Now, here I am speculating myself,  but with what I consider to be good reason.

As anyone who has ever inadvertantly wandered just that but too close to an EL AL check-in desk can certainly testify, security is something that the Israelis take particularly seriously – and not, of course, without good reason; and one, therefore, has to consider quite what view security officials at the Israeli Embassy (i.e. Mossad) would take of being assigned a diplomatic protection officer with a clear and obvious familial connection to a nation with whom they were, at the time, engaged in a pretty serious shooting-match even by Middle Eastern standards.

Irrespective of PC Basha’s personal and moral views on the recent conflict and, equally, his service record with the Metropolitan Police – which must be excellent to begin with simply for him to have been assigned to the Diplomatic Protection Group, one has to take the view that it would undoubtedly be the case that security officers at the Israeli Embassy would consider it inadvisable that he be assigned to duties at their Embassy, purely as precautionary measure and would, therefore, have requested that he be assigned to other duties had he not already asked for such an alternate assignment himself.

In asking to be reassigned, PC Basha did little more than save the Israelis the trouble of having to ask for him to be reassigned and, by doing so, inadvertantly prevented the Israelis from finding themselves in the precise same media shit-storm in which he now finds himsefl embroiled, given that a request to remove a Muslim Police Officer from his assignment with the Embassy at a time when Israel and Hezbollah were doing their level best to shoot the crap out each other would certainly have been interpreted in some quarters as a rather inflammatory move.

Another angry policeman said: “This decision beggars belief. It goes against everything the police should stand for — providing a service to the public no matter who they are.”

Ah yes, that old favorite, repetition. In fact better that that we have repetition with emphasis (i.e. the use of italics)… and as every journalist knows, if you have a particular point you really want to get across then there is not better way to go about it than by repeating yourself.

The message here is hardly a subtle one, PC Basha is, in the estimation of The Sun, clearly unfit to be a serving Police Officer… and why?

Well that’s equally obvious, its because he’s of those disloyal Muslim’s who put his personal beliefs before his public duties – whatever else PC Basha may be, The Sun is making it clear to its readers that he’s ‘not one of us’…

…and in case you still have any doubts on that score…

PC Basha, attached to the Met’s Diplomatic Protection Group, asked for special dispensation not to work at the embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens, Central London. The officer, in his late 20s, has taken part in recent anti-war protests.

The Israeli Embassy was attacked in 1994 by Palestinian fanatics with a 50lbs car bomb, injuring 19 and causing millions of pounds’ damage.

But one senior source said: “PC Basha objected to the posting on moral grounds — because of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon and the resulting civilian casualties of fellow Muslims.”

Well ain’t that just the clincher. Not only is PC Basha as Muslim but he’s been on anti-war protests as well… and we all know what kind of Muslims do things like that… its the bearded one’s with the fatwas, isn’t it.

Because lets not forget, these Muslims, they’re… well, they’re all terrorists aren’t that and you can’t have terrorists serving Queen and Country…

Quite what the relevance a 12 year old car bomb attack – that most people have long since forgotten about – has to this story is not exactly clear, although one has to suspect  that its inclusion at this point in the article is intended simply as an an outright smear, an open invitation for readers to infer that PC Basha is a coward; in the sense of not wanting to work the Embassy in case it got bombed.

To be honest, the inclusion of a reference to the 1994 car bomb attack is so obviously out of place in the context of this story that as soon as The Sun’s website is back up and running, I’ll being emailing them to ask exactly why they considered this information relevant to PC Basha’s story…

  • FOLLOWING today’s revelations in the Sun newspaper, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair  called for an urgent review of the decision.
  • He said: “Having learned of this issue I have asked for an urgent review of the situation and a full report into the circumstances.”

    No problem interpreted that last bit – it woz the Sun wot dun it… always a good way to end an article…

    …unless you’ve comes up with yey  excuse for playing the old ‘can’t trust the Pakis’ card…

  • ANOTHER Muslim removed from the DPG after his security clearance was rejected is trying to sue the Met. Vetting revealed PC Amjad Farooq had a close acquaintance with alleged links to an extremist Islamic group.
  • 2 thoughts on “It woz The Sun wot spun it…

    1. The Sun should focus exclusively on pornography, with one news column written by Melanie Phillips.

      That, at least, would be being honest about its real credo.

    2. A very interesting post; though I don’t agree with all of your conclusions, it’s refreshing to read a dispassionate take on this case, rather than barely-literate tabloid bullshit.

      I would, though, slightly quibble with your complaint about the Sun’s inclusion of the 1994 Palestinian bombing of the Israeli embassy as a “smear” on PC Basha. I’m not sure I read it that way; to be honest, to me it reads more like a tabloid trying to set out, for the hard of thinking, why security for the Israeli embassy is an issue in these times.

      You see the same kind of thing in other stories; a Blair-Brown story will typically walk the reader carefully through the history of the feud, and not assume that “Granita” means anything to them, or that they can use the name “John Smith” without carefully explaining who, what, and why.

      I have some disquiet about the principle of police officers picking and choosing whom they will protect and whom they will not, but I agree that the circumstances of this case are complex and nuanced amd the tabloids’ scaremongering reflects more on them than the PC in question.

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