Allegations that a police trainer has labelled a proposed commemoration of the Munich Olympics massacre at the 2012 London Olympics "a security threat" have been vehemently denied.
An Islamic scholar, hired by Scotland Yard to train police on interfaith issues, had warned that a commemoration ceremony "could become a national security threat if it was not managed properly and was perceived by Muslims to be ‘hijacking' the Games", The Times reported this week.
The scholar, Sheikh Michael Mumisa, was addressing senior officers from the Yard's Transport Operations Command Unit during a two-day training course on faith and interfaith, held last month at the Woolf Institute for the Study of Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim Relations in Cambridge. The course was the first of its kind held by the Institute.
Its executive director, Edward Kessler, said: "Sheikh Mumisa's words have been twisted in a way that is not accurate. I know what was said because I was there throughout the course. We were very unhappy with what appeared because it did not reflect the course that the officers took.
"We are not experts in terrorism, we are experts in faith and interfaith and that's what they were here to learn. It was a very positive programme which dealt with subjects including antisemitism and Islamophobia.
"The possibility of a ceremony to commemorate the Munich Olympics massacre was mentioned as being key to the Jewish community. But it was discussed in terms of one type of commemoration being wholly appropriate and another being wholly inappropriate. The police would have to deal with the situation on the ground and the point was that they should be aware of the sensitivities of each faith community. It was certainly not talked of as a ‘national security threat' or the Games being ‘hijacked'."
Sheikh Mumisa was not at the Institute and could not be contacted for a comment. Eleven Israeli athletes were killed by the Palestinian Black September group at the 1972 Munich Games. The 2012 Games will mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre.
Alex Goldberg, chief executive of the London Jewish Forum, said that any commemoration would be "up to the families of those who died, with the Israel Olympic Association and, ultimately, the International Olympic Committee to decide what it will be".