The fasting policemen Non-Muslim officers go hungry for 18 hours in Ramadan ‘publicity stunt’
A POLICE force sent non-Muslim officers to fast for 18 hours to show ‘unity’ with the Islamic community during Ramadan.
The Northamptonshire Association of Muslim Police organised the event to ‘send a powerful message’ to locals.
But some residents criticised the force, accusing them of using the occasion as a ‘cheap publicity stunt’.
Northamptonshire Police gave officers and their families the opportunity to experience an 18-hour fast for Ramadan and join in at a congregational evening meal – known as an iftar – at a local mosque on Monday.
A number of police officers, staff and their families volunteered. One of the officers who took part, Kamilla Poole, who is a ‘positive action officer’, said it enabled him to get ‘deeper into the community roots’.
He said: ‘Fasting for the day with no food and water was quite an experience and I realised that it requires a significant level of dedication and self-control to do it.
‘As part of my role, I want to get deeper into the community roots to help increase participation and recruitment from all parts of the community.’
However, a press release by the force showing him and another special constable grinning as they tucked into food at the Headlands Mosque in Northampton at the end of their fast provoked a backlash from some residents and businesses.
Jack Mannion, 35, a father of one from Northampton, said: ‘I’m not one to criticise anybody for their religious beliefs but this is outrageous.
It’s merely a cheap publicity stunt and could be quite detrimental to an officer’s health and their ability to carry out police work.’
Local farm shop worker Janice Boyd, 50, said: ‘If they are Muslim officers then of course it’s fine, we should respect every religion’s customs and traditions.
‘But getting non-Muslim officers to fast is just political correctness gone mad and not the best use of police resources at all.’
Another resident, Adam Hurst, added: ‘We’ve got issues with the numbers of front line officers being cut and they decide to put cops in a mosque having not eaten for 12 hours.
‘How they think that is a good idea is beyond me.’
Charlbeck Jewellers in Corby, Northamptonshire, tweeted: ‘As well as “inclusion, equality, and diversity”, how about fighting commercial crime?
‘ How about police officers liaising with victims of crime, responding to victims’ countless emails? That would be a good start!’
But others defended the decision. Ant Elsayed wrote on the force’s Facebook page: ‘Well done guys. Police need to be closely integrated into our communities, the way they used to be.
‘It fosters mutual trust and co-operation, and that helps to reduce crime itself.’
Ayub Abdulla, a trustee of the mosque, said: ‘It was heartening to see people from the police taking part in the fast and joining us with their families for the evening meal.’
Sophia Perveen, chairman of the Northamptonshire Association of Muslim Police, added: ‘When organising this event, I didn’t expect officers or staff to fast, as it can be quite a shock to the system. However, it was really encouraging to see them give it a go.
‘This helped to send a powerful message to the local community that officers are willing to try different approaches to gain a better understanding of different communities.’
Hundreds of Muslim police officers fast during Ramadan, but it is thought to be one of the first times that non-Muslim officers have been asked to take part.
In some forces, such as the Metropolitan Police, managers ask officers if they can still carry out their duties while fasting.
Yesterday Northamptonshire Police Chief Inspector James Willis said: ‘This event was attended by a number of offduty officers and two of our onduty Special Constables.’
‘How about fighting crime?’