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