A Scottish police force has said sorry for using an image of a puppy in an advert, after warnings that it could offend Muslims.
Critics say this is an example of police forces showing over-sensitivity to Muslims while hardly any sensitivity is shown to Christian beliefs on moral issues.
A local Tayside Councillor, Mohammed Asif, said that the image of a puppy would not be welcomed by the area’s 3,000 strong Muslim community.
The image was used on postcards to advertise Tayside police’s new non-emergency phone number.
The police force issued a swift apology, and is investigating the possibility of pulling the postcards from circulation.
A spokesman for Tayside police said: “We did not seek advice from the force’s diversity adviser prior to publishing and distributing the postcards. That was an oversight and we apologise for any offence caused.”
Traditionally, Islam teaches that dogs are unclean animals, but Muslim groups have appeared puzzled by the force’s reaction.
A spokesman for the Scottish-Islamic Foundation said: “There isn’t any Islamic basis for taking issue with a simple picture of a little puppy.”
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, the Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police has been criticised for saying equal opportunities was his “overarching” goal, despite spiralling crime rates.
His equality crusade included asking crime suspects if they are on a ‘transgender journey’ and flying the ‘gay rights’ rainbow flag over police headquarters.
Police confusion over diversity issues has led to the infringement of religious liberty in several cases over recent years.
West Midlands Police, 2008
Church workers Arthur Cunningham and Joseph Abraham were told by police that they could not preach the gospel in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham. The case is under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Greater Manchester Police, 2008
A Christian street preacher in Manchester was silenced, taken into the back of a police van, questioned and detained for over an hour following a complaint of ‘homophobia’.
Miguel Hayworth had been publicly reading from the Bible, from Romans 1:17-32, when a member of the public complained. The officers later released Mr Hayworth and he was permitted to continue preaching.
South Wales Police, 2006
Stephen Green, a Christian campaigner, was arrested for handing out evangelistic tracts at a gay pride festival in Cardiff. Police admitted that he had not behaved in a violent or aggressive manner, but confirmed that officers arrested him because the leaflets contained biblical quotes about homosexuality.
Mr Green was held at a police station for four hours, questioned, charged and eventually committed for trial. The case against Mr Green was subsequently dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Metropolitan Police, 2005
Lynette Burrows, an author and family-values campaigner, took part in a radio talk show about civil partnerships for homosexuals. Mrs Burrows said she did not believe that adoption by two gay men would be best for a child. Subsequently, a policewoman telephoned Mrs Burrows to speak to her about her comments.
The police officer said a ‘homophobic incident’ had been reported against her and that record of it would be kept by police. Mrs Burrows felt that the policewoman was pressurising her even though she had committed no crime.
Lancashire Police, 2005
Christian pensioners, Joe and Helen Roberts, were interrogated by police in 2005 because they had expressed their opposition to their local council spending public money on ‘gay rights’ projects.
After launching legal action, the couple eventually won an apology and damages from Lancashire Police and Wyre Borough Council. The police and the council also changed their procedures to avoid making the same mistake again.
Cheshire Police, 2003
In November 2003 the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, was investigated by Cheshire Constabulary after he told his local newspaper that some homosexuals re-orientated to heterosexuality with the help of therapy.
A complaint was made to the police that his remarks were a ‘hate crime’. The police passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, who decided not to prosecute because the Bishop had not broken any “current” laws.