London police chief orders review of Muslim officer excused from guarding Israeli embassy

The chief of London's Metropolitan Police on Thursday ordered an urgent review of a decision to excuse a Muslim police officer from guarding the Israeli Embassy.

The order by Commissioner Ian Blair followed a report in The Sun newspaper saying that Constable Alexander Omar Basha, who worked in the Diplomatic Protection Group, had sought during the summer to be excused because of moral objections to Israeli bombing of Lebanon.

But Superintendent Dal Babu, chairman of the Association of Muslim Police, said he understood that moral objections were not the issue. "This is about the welfare of an individual, and not about a moral issue," Babu said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"This particular officer had brought an issue forward his wife is Lebanese, his father is from Syria and he brought up this issue at the start of August this year, and had expressed a desire to be posted elsewhere while the war was going on," Babu said.

"He is now working normal DPG (Diplomatic Protection Group) duties, and clearly if an issue happens at the Israeli Embassy he will deal with it."

Babu said he had spoken to the officer, and "my understanding of it is that he felt uncomfortable and unsafe," reports AP. 

The Israeli Embassy released a brief statement saying it had "full confidence in the ability of the Metropolitan Police force to provide the embassy with maximum security, as well as its ability to deal with this sort of grave problem."

It later released another statement that said protecting the embassy was a "difficult problem," and expressed "full confidence in the devotion, professionalism and ability of the Metropolitan Police Force to provide the embassy with maximum security."