Muslim BBC journalist held down by six officers

A Muslim journalist was held to the ground by police officers after his radio equipment was mistaken for an explosive device. Max Khan, 39, was covering a story for BBC Radio Stoke when six officers held him down and searched his backpack. Staffordshire Police said it had received reports that a man with a large backpack with wires or aerials coming from it was acting suspiciously outside the Potteries Shopping Centre in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent on April 7.

In a statement to The Muslim News Chief Superintendent Jane Sawyers, of Staffordshire Police, said, “Our first duty in cases like this is the safety of the public. The person and our officers, and presented with this limited information, local officers immediately responded and positively acted to ensure everyone’s safety. I want to apologise for any distress caused but the action taken was necessary. I am pleased with the positive and professional way the officers dealt with the incident. Bearing in mind the current national terrorism alert level we were able to resolve this incident quickly and safely.”

A spokesperson for the BBC told The Muslim News, “Police have apologised for this incident and as far as the BBC is concerned the matter is now closed.”

However, speaking on behalf of her husband who has been gagged by the BBC, Saadia Khan told The Muslim News, “I want to see how the BBC reacts if the same happens to one of its white reporters in China during the Olympics this summer. Will it accept an apology from the police there and call it an end to the matter?” She also challenged the rationale of the police, asking, “What’s so special about Stoke that Al Qa’ida would make it a target? Why should terrorists stick to rucksacks to carry their bombs and after months of planning why leave wires hanging out of it?”

Muslim News, 25 April 2008