It was, at worst, a stupid and tasteless joke, and Arshad Mahmood reacted to it in a kind and mature manner. For the politically correct authorities, however, it was no laughing matter at all.
“Muslim PC laughs off Secret Santa gift of bacon… but bosses force friend who gave it to quit,” by Duncan Robertson and Colin Fernandez at the Daily Mail (thanks to Ruth King):
A Muslim police officer given bacon and wine as a Secret Santa gift decided to treat it as a harmless if tasteless joke. But a non-Muslim colleague failed to show the same level of tolerance.
The officer who supplied the gift, 26-year-old PC Rob Murrie, was reported to his superiors for racism.
And PC Murrie subsequently came under such pressure that he felt he had no option but to resign from the Bedfordshire force.
Yesterday, the target of the joke, 31-year-old Arshad Mahmood, said he still regarded PC Murrie as “a good officer and a good friend”, while Muslim community leaders accused police chiefs of “overreacting” to the incident at Luton police station.
The Bedfordshire force has come under intense criticism for its failure to recruit ethnic minority groups despite Luton being one of the most multi-racial areas in Britain – one of the reasons it was rated last year as the worst force in the country.
PC Mahmood, who joined the force in September 2005, said that about 18 of his colleagues had decided to join in the Secret Santa – where each member of a group is given the name of another to supply with an anonymous gift.
“We opened our presents in the canteen at breakfast time on Christmas Day. The gifts were chosen depending on the person’s personality, and cost about Â£10.”
One officer received a bus pass and a timetable because he lived so close to the police station that he did not need a car.
Others received intentionally “boring” presents such as a Parker pen and a pair of socks.
“When I pulled my present out, I did not realise that I had been given a bottle of wine,” added PC Mahmood, a married father of one. “As a non-drinker, I thought it was a luxury bottle of orange juice or something.
“Everyone was joking but I thought the packet of bacon was a bit below the belt. Judging from the reaction of everyone else, they thought it was a bit below the belt as well.
“But it was not meant in a malicious way, just a bit of banter.”…
Read it all.