Muslim PC sues after workmates 'laughed at his beard' Muslim beard styles.
Muslim PC sues after workmates 'laughed at his beard'
Updated: 09:10 GMT, 9 March 2009
A Muslim police officer claims he was forced out of his job by colleagues who made fun of his beard and called him a 'f***ing Paki'.
PC Javid Iqbal, 38, said white officers openly discussed in front of him how they were ' better' than their ethnic-minority colleagues.
The married father of two also claims officers pulled faces at each other if told they had to go out on patrol with him and forced him to walk home from a job instead of picking him up.
PC Javid Iqbal: 'My beard is an important part of my identity'
Mr Iqbal says he was sacked after fellow-officers in Luton launched a 'smear and witch-hunt campaign' during which they lodged a string of complaints about his performance.
He is taking the Bedfordshire force to an employment tribunal claiming he is the victim of racial and religious discrimination and unfair dismissal.
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The claims will add to concern about institutional racism in police forces.
An employment tribunal in London recently heard evidence that an 'apartheid culture' was operated at Belgravia police station, with separate vans for white and black staff.
Mr Iqbal, who was born and raised in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, told the Daily Mail: 'My beard is an important part of my identity which helps other Muslims relate to me.
'I am disgusted that I was bullied by other officers because of my beliefs. I became a policeman because I believed in putting something back into society.
'I have found that institutional racism is still very much around.'
Mr Iqbal was working in Hertfordshire County Council's finance department when he became a special constable for the Bedfordshire force, one day a week.
Following the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005, he volunteered to go on patrol every night after work for two weeks to help reassure the large Muslim population of Luton, who were concerned about revenge attacks.
In October that year he was accepted on to a training course to become a full-time constable.
He says the first racist incident came in early 2006. He claims he was in a van with seven PCs and three 'tutor' constables - including one other Muslim - which stopped for food at a shop which did not sell halal products. When he asked if they were stopping anywhere else, he was told: 'This is it.'
One officer allegedly mimicked his accent and pretended to have a beard similar to his in an ' offensive' incident.
Matters worsened in September 2006 when eight officers presented 'negative statements' to superiors about Mr Iqbal, including an allegation that he failed to help a colleague arresting a violent offender.
He said he was cleared the following June when CCTV showed he was dealing with other people at the time.
But relations with fellow officers hit a new low in February 2008, three months after he officially lodged his grievances. A sympathetic officer told him the document had been left in the duty room where anyone could read it.
Subsequently, he said, an officer had openly referred to him as a 'f***ing Paki'.
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Mr Iqbal had only recently returned to work after a ninemonth leave of absence on full pay owing to depression when he was sacked for poor performance in August last year. He says he was the victim of untrue allegations, such as failing to report a rape claim. He insists the woman complained only of harassment at the time.
Mr Iqbal's wife, Surhya, 30, a preschool headmistress, said: 'Javid has gone through depression quite badly. There were times when he was asleep continuously for three days. Previously, I felt if something was wrong we would be able to rely on the police. Now I know how it works on the inside I've lost faith.'
A source at Bedfordshire Police claimed Mr Iqbal was sacked because he was 'not cut out to be a police officer'. A spokesman added: 'We can't comment on a case that is yet to be heard but the evidence will speak for itself.'
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