STAND Up To Racism Manchester have condemned Greater Manchester Police’s use of the phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’ in a terror training exercise at the Trafford Centre earlier this week.

GMP were accused of racial stereotyping on social media after the Arabic phrase was used in the exercise.

An apology has since been issued and GMP say the phrase was not in the script.

On behalf of Stand Up To Racism Manchester, Nahella Ashraf responded to the apology, saying: “It’s unacceptable that the police did what they did, they had five months to prepare the exercise. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue.

“I know they put out an apology, but I think it’s unacceptable. The damage that that statement caused, and the message it sent out to the public, was unacceptable.

Footage from the training exercise held at the Trafford Centre 

“It opens up every Muslim in this city to racial attacks.

“For some reason they had to make a connection with a faith. I think it was highly irresponsible and offensive.”

Eight hundred volunteers took part in the overnight drill, which has been marred by controversy.

Manchester GP Siema Iqbal was one of the first to raise the matter to attention using social media.

She tweeted: ‘Please provide an explanation @gmpolice @RSutcliffeACC @amandacomms why the terrorist in #CTexercise was #Muslim and shouted Allahu Akbar.’

Saath Saath, a Muslim community group based in Longsight, has called for action, demanding that the official responsible for the use of the phrase resign.

Nahella Ashraf said: “At Stand Up to Racism we stand by the Muslim community and will support them in any action they want to take.

“I do know that people are talking about ‘heads must roll’ over this, and we agree.

“We want assurances that this is never going to happen again, and that Greater Manchester Police has some kind of anti-racism training.

“The apology has not been enough, not at all.”

In a statement released by GMP, assistant chief constable Garry Shewan apologised for the offence: “The scenario for this exercise is based on an attack by an extremist Daesh-style organisation and the scenario writers have centred the circumstances around previous similar attack of this nature, mirroring details of past events to make the situation as real life as possible for all of those involved.

“However, on reflection we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognise and apologise for the offence that this has caused.”

Stand Up To Racism Manchester are holding a meeting on May 17 at the Central Methodist Hall to discuss the issue.

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