The Independent reported that the Greater Manchester Police Chief made a public apology after conducting a simulated terror attack at one of the UK’s largest shopping malls, the Trafford Centre, as part of a counter-terrorism training exercise.
In the exercise, a fake suicide bomber wearing all black ran into the mall and shouted “God is the greatest” in Arabic four times before detonating a fake bomb. About 800 volunteers reacted to the bombing by screaming, running away from the scene, and throwing themselves to the floor as if they had been injured. Even fake blood was used by the volunteers to simulate injuries.
The UK is undergoing a nationwide terror attack training program which has been in the works since last December in light of the major recent attacks in Paris and Brussels. Local police noted that the training program is part of general preparations in the event of a terrorist attack and is not related to any particular or live threat from any religious group.
Community groups and activists criticized the Manchester police for using religious stereotypes in their simulation training exercise, arguing that it would cause confusion by linking the attack to religion and would further promote anti-Muslim prejudice.
The Manchester Police Department promptly apologized for any offense caused and stated that the use of the Arabic expression in the simulation was “unacceptable”. Their apology is contradictory, however, because the police explained that they were trying to simulate a Daesh-style attack, as reported by ABC news.
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