Jihad Watch reader E.B. notes that Peterborough has a significant “Asian” population- the British media term for people from the Middle East and subcontinent.
What kind of message does it send, both to the armed services and to the larger community, to have the service members hide their service, rewarding the “verbal abusers,” and acting as though their service is not something to be displayed with pride? And if they fear the verbal abuse is a prelude to violence against service members in the city, what does that say about conditions in Peterborough? Is Peterborough developing “no-go” areas?
“Airmen told ‘no uniforms in city’,” from the BBC:
Airmen have been told not to leave an RAF base in uniform to avoid being verbally abused by civilians.
Officers at RAF Wittering reported that servicemen have been taunted by people in nearby Peterborough who oppose UK involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Although military staff are encouraged to wear uniform in public, a local decision was made against doing so in the city, the Ministry of Defence said.
The government is investigating as “a matter of urgency”.
Cambridgeshire police said they did not know of any abuse reported in the city.
But a spokesman for RAF Wittering said staff from the base had reported incidents of abuse “up the military chain of command”.
He said acting on advice from RAF police, the station commander had then taken the decision that staff should not wear uniforms off site.
The Mayor of Peterborough, Marion Todd, said the decision not to wear service uniforms was a “sad day for the city”.
John Peach, leader of the Peterborough City Council, said: “I guess to a degree they are perhaps a sitting target but it’s terrible that people have to take theses sort of measures because we’re on friendly terms with RAF Wittering.
“In fact we gave them the Freedom of the City award some time ago and we welcome the base being there and are on good co-operative terms with them.”
Peterborough’s Conservative MP Stewart Jackson said he thought the RAF may have overreacted.
Indeed. But there’s some good news: Even Gordon Brown thinks this is ridiculous. “Brown condemns no-uniform advice,” also from the BBC:
Gordon Brown has condemned reports that RAF personnel at a Cambridgeshire base were advised not to wear uniform in public for fear of verbal abuse.
He said armed forces members should be “encouraged to wear their uniform in public and have the respect and gratitude of the British people”.
The decision not to wear uniform was taken by the station commander at RAF Wittering near Peterborough.
Defence minister Derek Twigg blamed “a tiny minority” for the abuse. […]
Air Chief Marshall Sir Glenn Torpy, said: “Whatever people’s views are about specific military operations, everyone should be able to recognise the bravery and professionalism of our Armed Forces and respect the difficult job they do.”