Anger halts 'terror cameras' in Muslim parts of British city

18th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A surveillance operation involving more than 200 cameras in predominantly Muslim areas of Britain's second biggest city was delayed Thursday after an outcry from residents, authorities said.

Anti-crime chiefs said the cameras would stay off in Birmingham, central England, after it emerged counter-terrorism authorities were involved in installing the equipment.

The revelation sparked claims the area was being "stigmatised as a terrorist ghetto."

Authorities also announced bags would be placed over the 218 cameras to reassure residents no footage was being filmed.

There would now be a public consultation in areas targeted by the project, whose main focus was on two districts, authorities said.

"We believe it is right to give local people a chance to express their views," said the police, the local council and a local anti-crime agency in a joint statement about the scheme, called Project Champion.

The statement added the organisers should have been "more explicit" about the role in the surveillance operation of counter-terrorism authorities, who financed the project.

Local lawmaker Tanveer Choudhry blasted the initiative, telling the Birmingham Post newspaper the surveillance equipment should be removed until a consultation is completed.

"The area has been stigmatised as a terrorist ghetto. The police should remove the cameras until they have fully consulted with local communities."

© 2010 AFP

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