The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) was forced to apologize for a suicide bombing training exercise in May 2016 because the mock bomber yelled “allahu akbar” during the exercise.
The exercise, which featured 800 volunteers and was designed to test emergency services response, was met with a wave of criticism on Twitter.
Manchester peace activist Dr. Erinma Bell was among the most vocal critics. She argued “a terrorist can be anyone” and “we need to move away from stereotypes.”
The Community Safety Organization, which seeks to combat Islamophobia, tweeted “This sort of thing panders to stereotypes and further divides us. It will increase anti-Muslim hate crime.”
GMP assistant chief constable Garry Shewan explained that the training exercise was specifically designed to mimic an ISIS style attack but quickly apologized.
“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,” he said. “We recognize and apologize for the offense that this has caused.”
Greater Manchester Mayor Tony Lloyd also apologized for the event stating that while the preparation measures were important they were “marred by the ill-judged, unnecessary and unacceptable decision by organisers” to have those playing the parts of terrorists shout allahu akbar.
“It didn’t add anything to the event, but has the potential to undermine the great community relations we have in Greater Manchester,” he said.
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