British police and security forces conducted a mock terrorist attack on a shopping center in Trafford, Manchester on Tuesday.
An attacker shouting "Allahu Akbar” (God is the Greatest) entered the centre and a flash representing a bomb went off.
Volunteers covered in fake blood screaming and shouting for help as heavily armed police moved into the centre.
But on social media the shouting of "Allahu Akbar" during the counter terrorism exercise, which many people saw as Islamophobic, came to the fore.
— Siema Iqbal (@siemaiqbal) May 10, 2016
Good question. We need to move away from stereotypes if we want to achieve Real learning. A terrorist can be any one https://t.co/vQ3thEGGGn
— Dr Erinma Bell MBE (@ErinmaBell) May 10, 2016
— The Ranting Rozzer (@RantingRozzer) May 10, 2016
Others blamed Islam and praised the exercise.
@Independent_ie#Well done to the Greater Manchester Police Force.The truth hurts but it is the truth. We are at war with the forces of Islam
— Off the Cuff (@off_the_cuff_IE) May 10, 2016
"Nothing To Do With Islam", say Greater Manchester Police, & their Police & Crime Commissioner. pic.twitter.com/dMDcGNLBap
— A Libertarian Rebel (@A_Liberty_Rebel) May 10, 2016
Following anti-Muslim posts on social media, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) apologised for linking the mock suicide bombing with Islam.
Some users appreciated the apology from GMP, while others said that it was unnecessary.
@gmpolice Why apologize ?If there is a terrorist attack in the UK what's the % chance it's Isis and hence a Muslim attack motivated by islam
— Philip Goulbourn (@thegoulbourn) May 10, 2016
Following the GMP's apology, Manchester Council of Mosques, Bolton Council of Mosques and Stockport Muslims issued a statement stressing the need to avoid stereotyping.
The statement said that the "fake suicide bomber" who chanted "Allahu Akbar"..."in the eyes of many was unjustified and perpetatuates the false stereotypes about the nature of terrorists and terrorism."
— MCOM (@McrMosques) May 10, 2016
All emergency services were involved in the exercise, which was designed to help prepare for responding to attacks like the ones in Paris in November and Belgium in March.
Manchester city centre was targeted by an IRA bombing in 1996.