[WikiEN-l] OT (was Re: Are these userbox templates NPOV?)

Andrew Gray shimgray at gmail.com
Fri May 12 18:39:02 UTC 2006

On 12/05/06, Prasad J <prasad59 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Yes, Muslims are being shot at railway stations actually. However in
> this case, it was not a Muslim at all, it was a Brazilian man who
> looked like a Muslim on account of his brown skin. The London
> Metropolitan Police however assumed that he was a Muslim and shot him
> dead on the spot. Again the police were acting in the belief that
> since he (in their judgement) was a Muslim, he was probably carrying a
> bomb.

You may be unaware of this detail, but ~3% of the population of the UK
is Muslim. If the Metropolitan Police were indeed randomly executing
people on the streets purely for being Muslim, then London would be a
good bit emptier.

This case is somewhat more complex than you suggest. The day before,
London was attacked, two weeks after major bombings. The suicide
attacks failed; four people were known to be on the run from police,
and there were serious worries that they might attack again.

The places where the attempted attacks took place were combed for
evidence; based on something which was found with an address on, a
block of flats was staked out. The next morning, Mr Menezes came out
of the flats, and was quietly followed by a policeman, while someone
tried to identify him from photographs.

At this point, we had the fuckup; someone mistakenly identified him as
the suspect. It appears that no-one was actually able to compare him
to photographs of the suspect, and was going on verbal descriptions;
this part is unclear, because the security services refuse to say
anything. But about the time he entered the station, the people on the
scene had been told by their control room that he was the man they
were after.

They followed him onto the train, there was some shouting, he
apparently began moving towards him and they decided he was a threat.
And then...

Yes, he was shot because he was mistaken for a Muslim sucide bomber.
But he was not shot because the police saw him and thought "hey, a
Muslim, open season!". He was not shot because of some grand policy
that all Muslims were suicide bombers.

He was shot because the men in front of him had been *told* that he
was a probable suicide bomber; they were jumpy, expecting him to try
and do something. Then he, tragically, didn't know what was going on
and acted in a way that caused them to jump too far.

It was a fuckup; it wasn't helped by the underlying racism the Met has
failed to shake off, no doubt*, but it's still a fuckup at heart and
it's not, generally speaking, evidence for anything more than that.

*The Met is the only organisation I know of to dismiss someone for
sending racist hatemail... in a case where he himself was the
recipient. (He won a court appeal)

- Andrew Gray
  andrew.gray at dunelm.org.uk

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