Monday, March 09, 2009

Japanese Taliban?

Police apologize over 'Taliban' comment to porphyria sufferer

YONAGO, Tottori -- A high school student who wears a veil due to a medical condition was stopped and verbally abused by a police officer, who asked him if he was a member of the Taliban, it's been learned.

Tottori police apologized for the officer's actions at the Tottori Prefectural Assembly on Friday, saying the officer acted and behaved inappropriately.
The 18-year-old student, who attends a high school in the Tottori Prefecture city of Sakaiminato, suffers from porphyria, a condition which causes pain when his skin is exposed to sunlight.

The officer from Yonago Police Station stopped the boy as he was riding double on a bicycle near JR Yonago Station on Oct. 28 last year, accusing him of being "strangely-dressed" and asking him, "Are you a Taliban member?"

The chief of the prefectural police headquarters later admitted that he was stopped because the veil looked suspicious, not because he was riding double.

The head of Yonago Police Station apologized to the student and his family, and the prefectural police headquarters reportedly sent a DVD explaining the condition to all police stations.

The student's 21-year-old brother also suffers from the condition, and met with Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai, seeking support in obtaining signatures to have the condition designated an intractable disease. The student's brother said the problem had been caused by a lack of understanding about the illness, adding that he wanted a lot of people to learn about it. The governor replied that he would make a request to the central government seeking official designation.

Mainichi Shimbun

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