Judge Apologizes for Muslim Holiday Order

AP, Nov. 3

LONDON—A British judge apologized Thursday to a suspected Islamic militant ordered to appear in court for an extradition hearing on one of the Muslim calendar’s holiest days.

Haroon Rashid Aswat, 31, is accused of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, and the U.S. government is seeking his extradition. He appeared in London’s Bow Street Magistrate’s Court on Thursday for the first day of the hearing.

“It is the most important day of my religion today—Eid,” Aswat told Judge Timothy Workman, referring to the festival of Eid al-Fitr that ends a month of fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“For me it is not a problem,” he told the judge. “I can understand it is about technical difficulties. But for these people doing these bombings in this country, they are very simpleminded—they take it as an insult.

Workman apologized for the timing of the appearance, saying: “If I had known we would have picked a different day.”

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A chief constable has condemned the portrayal of Muslims in a police magazine cartoon, describing it as offensive and sacrilegious.

The Police Federation magazine cartoon shows officers taking their shoes off outside a mosque, as a bearded man escapes clutching bags of explosives.

Bedfordshire’s chief constable Gillian Parker has written to complain.

The magazine’s editor has apologised and said there was no intention to cause offence.

The cartoon was seen by Bedfordshire Police as an attempt to mock the force’s advice to officers to remove their shoes before entering Muslim properties.

Ms Parker wrote: “The stereotypical portrayal of religious communities and the use of places of worship in a sacrilegious manner are bound to offend.

“Insensitive actions only serve to make our life more difficult.”

She said: “We have worked hard over an extended period of time to achieve relationships and I feel that the stereotypical portrayal of Muslims as terrorists has unnecessarily jeopardised this.

“Where it is feasible to do so we continue to consider the individual customs of all communities when we enter their homes and places of worship; I make no apology for this.”

Sincere apology

Metin Enver, editor of the magazine, told the BBC: “Much of the material we publish comes from independent parties and is not necessarily the view of the Police Federation.

“However, we do apologise sincerely if the cartoon featured caused any offence to anyone.

“The idea behind it featured five different scenarios.

“It was supposed to depict how policing has changed over the years and how the police service takes account of different cultures.

“We did not intend to offend any of those groups highlighted in the cartoon.”

The cartoon was published in the September edition of the magazine.

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