Arabic writing on police cruisers in London, Ont., angers Americans
'People are just screaming at me,' Const. Sandasha Bough says
Police in London, Ont., are being forced to defend decals on patrol cars that have the word "police" written in a number of different languages, including Arabic, which is the one that has angered some people.
Although the decals have been on London Police Service cruisers for at least nine years, a recent Facebook post about Arabic writing on patrol car has resulted in many angry phone calls from Americans upset over the apparent "Islamization of Canada." The post was picked up by a conservative American blog site that also published the phone number for London police.
"Headquarters has been getting calls like crazy," Const. Sandasha Bough said. "Some of them are being patched up to me and people are just screaming at me."
Bough couldn't provide specifics on how many calls have come in, but said they've remained steady throughout the day Friday.
On May 30, a Facebook user from Quebec posted a photo showing Arabic writing on a London patrol car. The post included the statement: "So it starts. The little toes in the door already." The poster also asks the question: "Why is this acceptable?"
The writer also questioned why "police" is not spelled out in French, even though both French and English spell the word exactly the same.
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The decals were added to police cars in 2009 to represent many of the city's various ethnic groups, but the Arabic one is the only one to draw criticism.
Using figures from Statistics Canada, officials selected the most frequently used languages for the stickers, including Vietnamese, Chinese, Persian and Polish. There are plans to include Spanish stickers in the future.
"It was a means of being inclusive of the diverse members within the city of London," Bough told CBC News.
The Facebook post on the decals was shared nearly 18,000 times and liked nearly 2,000 times.
London police received some calls after the post originally appeared, Bough said, but calls intensified after it was re-posted to the U.S. blog site.
"Canadians see this as an example of favouritism and inconsistent with French-Canadian values," according to the blog run by an individual identified as Dr. Rich Swier. "This is yet another example of the Islamization of Canada."
The writer suggests people complain and recommended fellow Americans voice their displeasure.
Other discriminatory incidents
This is the latest instance of xenophobia and discrimination in the southwestern Ontario city.
Earlier this week, an attack on an international student from Iran studying English prompted London Mayor Matt Brown to publicly disavow hateful discrimination,
"We need to make our community a safe and inclusive environment for all," Brown told CBC News. "That's regardless of things like race, gender, sexual orientation — anything.
"Hate crimes will absolutely not be tolerated in London. They shouldn't be tolerated anywhere across the province or across the country."
In February, an actor playing civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. faced racial slurs while on stage and in the last federal election campaign a sign was defaced with the words 'Arab Scum.'
With files from Derek Spalding and Kerry McKee