Greater Manchester police apologise for ‘Muslim terrorist’ in Trafford Centre training exercise
The mock explosion in the Trafford Centre caused controversy
During a simulation of a terrorist attack yesterday evening, the man acting as the terrorist was instructed to shout “Allahu Akbar” before detonating a fake bomb.
Police were criticised for using the religious phrase, meaning “God is greater”, as it conflates Islam with terrorism and encourages racial stereotyping. Dr Erinma Bell, a peace activist, told the BBC that “a terrorist can be anyone” and “we need to move away from stereotypes”.
Greater Manchester Police released a statement apologising: “The scenario for this exercise is based on an attack by an extremist Daesh-style organisation and the scenario writers have centred the circumstances around previous similar attacks of this nature, mirroring details of past events to make the situation as real life as possible for all of those involved.
“However, on reflection we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognise and apologise for the offence that this has caused.”
The drill was carried out to test the way emergency services responded to a terrorist attack. It involved 800 volunteers, some of which were given the appearance of having sustained serious injuries. As smoke filled the Orient food court people screamed and ran to safety.
The Trafford Centre has not been linked with any specific terrorist threat. A similar drill will be carried out in Liverpool on Wednesday.