Muslim fury at crime gang link
The Daily Telegraph
February 13, 2013 12:00AM
POLICE will hold a secret meeting with Middle Eastern community leaders today after a major announcement about Sydney crime backfired, causing tensions between Muslim leaders and police.
The government and police launched Operation Apollo last week with a major press conference announcing the Middle Eastern organised crime squad would have an "over-arching role" in investigating and targeting criminals involved in Sydney's shootings, especially in the south-west.
Some community leaders are incensed Operation Apollo appeared to centre on Middle Eastern gangs. "It is insulting to say all gun crime is the fault of Middle Eastern people," said Keysar Trad, a spokesman for the Muslim Australia Organisation.
"I was contacted yesterday afternoon by NSW police and told about the meeting and would be texted the location later."
But police stressed the meeting was part of ongoing community consultation about Operation Apollo. "We have held meetings before Apollo was announced and will have more in the future," Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, commander of Operation Apollo, said.
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"It is a low-key meeting where we want to convey to the community our aim is to get guns off the street and we are not targeting any one ethnic group."
Police said there was a misconception that only the Middle Eastern organised crime squad was involved.
"We will be using officers and intelligence from the homicide squad, the gangs squad, drug squads and other specialised police.
"The job is to get guns off the street and we need the community to help us as well."
It's believed about six leaders from a number of organisations have been asked to attend the meeting to try to calm angry community leaders.
Many leaders said the way the announcement was made gave the appearance all gun crime was being blamed on Middle Eastern people.
"There are bikies and other people involved in crime" Mr Trad said yesterday.
Another community leader who is attending the meeting said: "We have been asked not to talk about the meeting or say when or where it is. I'm surprised the media have found out. I was told it was to explain their position and to try to explain they are not singling out Muslims."
No No need for a Middle Eastern Crime Squad to investigate Muslim Crime Gangs