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Windsor police chief's apology (continued)

members of the chief’s own police department. Understandably so. Why did Smith think he had to apologize because a member of the department’s tactical unit had patted down a Muslim woman who was in a house where two men were arrested when the tactical squad converged on the house Oct. 31? He did so after members of the Muslim community requested a meeting with the chief and other senior city officials, including the mayor, in the wake of the arrests. Windsor police made the arrests after being requested to do so by the RCMP. The arrests were in connection with the deadly shootout and arrests of members of a radical Muslim group in Dearborn the previous week. Police officials say such pat downs – of men or women and regardless of the situation – are routine, and this is the first such complaint about them, police spokesman Sgt. Brett Corey told Muslim leaders said members of their community were “really uncomfortable” with how the woman was treated. Asked at a news conference about why women should not be touched, Windsor Islamic Association president Dr. Ismail Peer’s reply was telling. He said that at prayers in mosques there is “strict separation” of men and women. In certain situations there is not even “shaking hands.” The Muslim representatives were at pains to tell reporters that they are good members of the community, noting their involvement in charities such as food and blood drives. “We want to work with the police force, not against them,” Peer said. But he suggested police could do the same as security personnel at airports, and have women pat down other women. Peer allowed that the tactical squad’s action was “understandable” given the tense circumstances. But, he said, “we just expect some consideration...these are not major issues.” Religious tolerance is one thing. But when it conflicts with police carrying out their activities in a dangerous situation – where the protection of not just those on the scene but the wider community is concerned – it puts everyone in jeopardy. Further, allowing a separate standard for one ethnic or religious group provides that group more rights than anyone else. And that is at the heart of the community’s outrage. The chief had no reason to apologize.

Windsor Ontario News November 15 2009

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