Police forge links with Dundee Muslims

October 20, 2006

A controversial Special Branch Community Contact Unit set up by Tayside police has established groundbreaking links with Dundee and Abertay universities, writes Claire Sanders.

The unit was set up after the July 2005 bombings and covers the whole of Tayside. Detective Superintendent Jim Cameron of Tayside Police said other forces were interested in establishing their own units.

He said. "The idea is to establish good relationships with local ethnic communities, to hear their concerns and to pick up on any evidence of extremist activity."

The unit has two officers who have been active in building relationships with Dundee University, in particular its Islamic Society.

Constable Brian Young said: "We addressed the Islamic Society's annual meeting as well as the new intake of international students. We have found staff and students to be very welcoming."

The response among students is mixed. Asif Iqbal, vice-president of the society, said: "Personally, I am relaxed about this. The two guys who work in the unit are nice blokes and as there is no extremism here we talk mainly about football and cricket."

But Sohaib Saeed, who has just stood down as Scottish chair of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, said: "There is no place for police at Islamic Society meetings and the societies have every right to run political debates.

"We are particularly concerned that any international student expressing concerns about intolerant regimes back home could be reported to their local intelligence agencies and be in danger on their return."

The police stressed that no evidence of extremism had been found at Dundee.

A university spokesman said that the relationship between the Islamic society and the unit was voluntary.


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