Muslim police: A bridge between different cultures
by Büşra Akın Dinçer
LONDONMar 20, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Büşra Akın Dinçer
Mar 20, 2015 12:00 am
While Islamophobia appears to be increasing in European societies, Islam and its practitioners have become an asset to the UK, as the NAMP was established for solidarity among Muslim police officers
The Muslim community is growing in the U.K. Particularly in London, one can see Muslims in many different sectors. Muslims undoubtedly have become an important asset to British culture. British Muslim police officers are living proof of this. Launched in July 2007, the National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) works day and night for the safety of their country. NAMP is estimated to have over 2,000 members across the U.K. and opened its doors to Daily Sabah. NAMP President Asif Sadiq gave exclusive statements about the relationship between the police service and the Muslim community.
Sadiq was born in Kenya and came to the U.K. when he was six years old. He practices his profession, which he says is his passion, not in his native country, but in London. Sadiq started his career as a police officer, but is now the head of NAMP.
What is the purpose of the National Association of Muslim Police?
NAMP was formed to look after and assist Muslim officers within the police force. We promote understanding and awareness of Islam within the police force and provide advice about cultural issues and religious issues. We work with Muslim communities where we might be better able to engage. NAMP plays an important role in bridging the gap between the police and the Muslim community and furthering the work of the police with all communities in the U.K. We help to tackle Islamophobia and assist with countering terrorism.
How does the Muslim community see the idea of serving as a police officer in the U.K.?
As far as we know, there are 2,000 Muslim police officers serving in the U.K., although there is no exact figure at the moment. This number may be higher because when you join the police force, there is an option to declare what your faith is. Some people put on the form that they are Muslim, others don't. That is why we cannot exactly break down the number. However, we would like to see more Muslim people joining the police force. We need more representation on the force. However, Muslims have the perception that police officers are racist and they have the idea that if they join the police force they will be treated differently. I have been on the force for more than 10 years and I can say that it is not any different than what you would face in the private sector. Again there is another perception that if you join the police force you will be asked to spy on your community. This is absolutely out of the question.
Do you believe that Muslims are oppressed in the U.K.? How do you see the new anti-terror bill? Many in the Muslim community see this bill as a threat to their freedom.
The bill covers a broad spectrum. It is actually how it will be put to use that is a concern to me. If people use it in a right way, then it is great. If people abuse it, then there is a problem. I believe the bill is open to abuse. I know there are a lot of concerns about the bill in Muslim communities, but as a Muslim, I would like to say that we didn't do much getting together to actually think about how we can get our points heard. When certain Muslim organizations tried to provide input about the bill, it was already in the Parliament. So at that stage, we did very little a bit too late. Maybe in earlier stages, the concerns could have been raised. If the bill is used for the purpose it is meant for, which is just to protect people, then I do not believe that it is a bad thing.
Islamophobia has gained momentum in Europe and all over the world. Muslims are seen as terrorists who disturb the peace. As a Muslim who serves on the police force, how do you feel about this?
Islamophobia has unfortunately gone up. It is probably worse online. You get a lot of hatred online. However, it does not mean that we are not suffering physical abuse even though the vast majority of Muslims are law abiding citizens. Unfortunately, it still exists. From a police perspective, we are better at dealing with it now. We are trying to educate more, but there is a key point. The Muslim community needs to come forward and report Islamophobic actions to the police. It does not matter how small or how irrelevant it is. Even in the tiniest incident they need to come and report to us so we can build a picture. We can never know what attacks are taking place. If we do not know, we cannot address it. If they report it, we can know that it is becoming a bigger problem. This is one thing, and on the other hand, let me give you an example to explain how I feel about Islamophobia. A Muslim officer died to protect and save his country in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France. For me it has a deeper meaning because I am a Muslim and I am also on a police force. We try to protect all communities, we do not discriminate. However, after the attacks, when TV stations wanted to do interviews with me, all they wanted to ask about why these Muslims performed this attack. I was asked to relate to the terrorists, not the Muslim police officer who died in the attack, even though he had the same credentials as me. The world needs to understand that terrorism is not only ours, but everybody's responsibility.