Lincolnshire Police have produced a video aimed at educating and changing how British Muslims are portrayed, thanks to an idea by one of its officers.
As part of Hate Crime Awareness week Lincolnshire Police are inviting people to ask themselves: “How do I consider Muslims in this country?”
Are they portrayed as terrorists? Jihadis? Islamic State?
As part of this awareness week when talking about crimes motivated by hatred, the force has launched the 13-minute video to open up dialogue around religion.
It has been created with school pupils as its target audience and was the brainchild of Mablethorpe-based PC Glenn Palmer. It will be presented in workshops to various schools by PC Rizwaan Chothia, PREVENT officer for the East Midlands Special Operations Unit of Special Branch.
It was made with a national audience in mind and covers nationwide issues, but includes a doctor from Lincoln County Hospital.
A lot of perception of British Muslims may be to do with media coverage of traumatic incidents, such as terror attacks, for which groups like Islamic State have claimed responsibility, or for which individuals might have said they are acting in the name of Islam.
The video questions if that means all Muslims are the same or have the same extreme beliefs?
Pc Palmer said: “The idea for this video really started about eight years ago when we made a similar one in Boston that talked about misconceptions surrounding the Polish community there. After that I wanted to do one that opened up conversations about Muslims and that’s really where this idea came from. One of our roles as police officers is engagement and I see that as not only being the way we engage with the communities we serve but the way they engage with each other. The more we can do to put straight any misunderstandings in those communities, the better it can be for everyone.”
PC Rizwaan Chothia said: “The aim of many Islamist terrorist groups is to create a particular narrative around Islam not being compatible in the west and that Muslims will never be accepted by those living in the west. They seek to basically ‘divide and conquer’.
“We have seen a rise in hate crimes against Muslims nationally in the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks in the UK, this plays directly into the hands of those terrorist groups attempting to divide people and communities. The film explains how Muslims are very much a part of British society and have been for a very long time. It outlines how Muslims play an active part in British society and how we cannot let extreme groups and individuals, who are in the minority, divide us.“