An anti-terror training exercise drew the ire of Palestine’s most senior diplomat in Australia after vision was released showing mock terrorists in Palestinian-style head scarves pretending to stab commuters at a major railway station.
New South Wales Police apologised for their effort on Monday, according to ABC News. The backdown came in response to Izzat Abdulhadi, the head of the general delegation of Palestine to Australia, claiming many people had been left “really upset” by the video designed to train frontline police to respond to a so-called “active armed offender” incident.
Speaking on SBS Arabic24, NSW police’s multicultural media liaison officer Tarek Al-Issawi apologized for any offence caused.
“There surely was no intention in any way to defame or insult any part of the community, and if some people felt insulted it was unintentional,” he said. “NSW Police, of course apologize, as it apologised to many who called and objected to this and we admitted we are wrong and we apologized for it.”
Mr Abdulhadi said the headdress worn by the main protagonists in the video— known as a keffiyeh — was a symbol of Palestinian heritage and culture.
“It touches their own value system and their feelings and emotions so they were really upset by using this to stimulate or give an image about Palestinians as if they are terrorists,” he said.
Mr Abdulhadi was also not convinced about the nature of the apology.
“I’m not sure if it is 100 per cent an apology or whatever but we appreciate the clarification from the New South Wales police. I think it is a good step in the right track and I hope in the future it will not be repeated. This is the most important thing,” he said.
One person who commented on SBS Arabic 24’s Facebook page was Abu Sanad Munier, Head of the Palestinian Federation of Workers, who wrote: “We are for making Australia a safe country, but we reject the distortion of the Palestinian Keffiyeh, that is symbolic of the Palestinian struggle.”
“We wonder if this step constitutes a prelude to the banning of the Keffiyeh, and what will the Australian society perception be if I wear it on the street?”
Facebook follower Walid Alsaadi commented: “This is a distortion of the Arab and Islamic community.”
“When wearing the Keffiyeh for a re-enactment scene this means that the government is against the Arabic community and are accusing us of terrorism. This is ultimate racism towards our community.”