Credit: West Yorkshire Police
UK Police Ask ‘Have You Seen This Woman?’ Twitter’s Response Is Brutal

UK Police Ask ‘Have You Seen This Woman?’ Twitter’s Response Is Brutal

“surely this is a joke, right?”

A BBC outlet and local police were roundly mocked on social media last week after asking viewers for help finding a missing person and appending a photograph of a woman in a burqa, which completely obscured any of her identifying features.

“Have you seen Fahmida Begum? Police are very concerned for her welfare after she went missing in Bradford,” tweeted BBC Radio Leeds’ official Twitter account. West Yorkshire Police used the same photo in an appeal asking residents for help locating the woman.

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Begum, a 52-year-old resident of Manningham in West Yorkshire, England, went missing on March 15. According to a local BBC report, she wears a long black dress with a full-face veil and is described as having a “large build.”

The responses to BBC Radio Leeds’ inquiry were likely not what the outlet was expecting.

“surely this is a joke, right?” wrote one commenter, likely alluding to the fact that the posted photograph made it difficult to make out what Begum looked like.

“How the hell would we know if we’d seen her, it’s a nearly perfect disguise,” wrote another commenter.

“Jesus Christ – our security is actually in these peoples hands,” wrote one Twitter user, in a dig at police.

“Ban veiling now. It prevents justice from being served, regardless of the status as victim or criminal,” in reply to a tweet by journalist Andy Ngo, a frequent critic of Islam.

While most of the reactions to Begum’s photograph were playful, they reflect the cultural clash triggered by Muslim migration into the U.K, which some Britons believe is reshaping the traditional British way of life.

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According to a 2017 YouGov survey, 64% of respondents believe Arab migrants have failed to integrate into British society. The same study revealed 28% of those surveyed do not think migration from the Arab world has been beneficial to the U.K.

Earlier this year, a poll conducted by activist anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate found that a third of respondents believe Islam threatens the British way of life.

Some U.K. residents – citing concerns over security, female equality and the need for immigrants to assimilate – have pushed for a ban on the wearing of the Islamic veil.

An August 2016 YouGov poll found that 57% of the British public support banning the burqa in the country.

In a statement on the West Yorkshire Police website, Detective Inspector Mark Taylor, of Bradford District CID, said police “are very concerned that Fahmida has not been seen in nearly six weeks and our officers are continuing enquiries to locate her.”

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Cover image: Fahmida Begum (West Yorkshire Police)

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