Sunday, 6 July 2008

Pup In Boots

“You couldn’t make it up”, is a phrase that we can now use on a daily basis it seems. New guidelines by Apco – The Association of Chief Police Officers – would be more aptly put in a joke book, a comedy show or be an item for April Fool’s Day.

The guidelines state that police sniffer dogs will wear boots – yes, you did read that correctly – when searching certain houses for illegal substances or contraband goods. The households for which the new attire for these canines will be worn are not ones with new cream carpets. Nor is it a health and safety aspect (as we know, dogs do have a habit of walking in unmentionable stuff and bringing it inside if we are not careful) It is not even some kind of fashion statement No, the purpose of the boot wearing is to avoid causing offence and hurting the sensibilities of Muslims.
Apparently, boot-wearing dogs have already been designated to search mosques (yes I know, mosque = religious centre, therefore by nature surely not a place of criminal activity, but let’s not go down that route, right now) and now the recommendations have been extended to Muslim homes, too.
The dogs must have their paws covered before they begin their search, but this will only be in exceptional circumstances.
Now, I know from my own Muslim family and from my, granted, limited understanding of some Islamic teaching, that dogs' saliva is thought to be unclean or impure. But correct me if I am missing the point, but I would have thought covering one’s paws is not going to prevent saliva dripping or an occasional lick of a suspicious object.
But more to the point – what on earth are Apco thinking of and for God’s sake (if there is a god) when are these ridiculous actions to supposedly prevent “hurt feelings”, religious or otherwise going to come to an end ?

An Apco spokesperson said, 'We are trying to ensure that police forces are aware of sensitivities that people can have with the dogs to make sure they are not going against any religious or cultural element within people's homes.” Hmm…well if anyone is interested, my sensitivities are affronted when my religious or cultural elements are disturbed due to criminal activity.
A leading imam Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra has said, 'In Islamic law the dog is not regarded as impure, only its saliva is. Most Islamic schools of law agree on that. If security measures require to send a dog into a house, then it has to be done. I think Apco needs to consult better and more widely.We know the British like dogs; we Muslims should do our bit to change our attitudes.'

Well said, Sheikh Mogra !
It’s about time those who make these sort of outrageous guidelines and recommendations, sought out the real feelings and attitudes amongst the real people they are paid to protect, instead of panicking over the word of the moment in the media.