x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Relations are 'rock bottom' with undercover police in UK mosques

Muslim organisations in Manchester are warning that the use of undercover police to infiltrate mosques is destroying relations between communities and the police.

LONDON // Muslim organisations in one of Britain's largest cities are warning that the use of undercover police to infiltrate mosques is destroying relations between communities and the police.

"It is alarming, you've got one community that is being targeted," Yasmin Dar, a member of the Greater Manchester Police Mosques and Community Forum, told the BBC. "I've not heard of any cases of undercover officers going into churches or synagogues, so why a particular faith?

"Relations with the police have hit rock bottom. It has created a lot of mistrust with the police."

But a senior police source told The National yesterday that undercover policing at mosques throughout the UK would continue and had proved invaluable in providing intelligence that had thwarted "numerous" terrorist plots in the past five years.

"I promise you that, if there was a terror threat from Hindus, Jews or Christians, we would be in their temples, synagogues and churches like a shot," he said. "During the decades of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, Protestant and Catholic groups were regularly infiltrated.

"The fact is that the principal terror threat in Britain at present is being posed by a very small number of young fanatics, often organised by groups operating in or around mosques. These are the people that we all want to see stopped, including the overwhelming majority of British Muslims."

However, the Muslim Safety Forum, an umbrella organisation of 30 of the UK's major Islamic organisations, maintains that "this kind of infiltration is not the way forward". The Muslim Safety Forum advises the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) on policing Muslim communities.

Shamiul Joarder, the forum's spokesman on counter-terrorism, said that Muslim communities were leading the fight against extremism and that the police needed to concentrate not on undercover operations but on improving relations with these communities. "The police have not managed to foster positive relationships with the Muslim community, otherwise they could use these channels to get the information they need," he said.

The issue has come to the fore in Manchester following the conviction of three Muslim men in September for terrorist offences.

dsapsted@thenational.ae