A Hong Kong citizen has launched the first judicial challenge against the police’s handling of last week’s protests, demanding an apology over what he called a blasphemous comment against the Christian faith.
Alan Tam Chi-fai argued the remark “ask your Jesus to come down and see us” – allegedly made by a policeman during clashes with protesters on June 12 – was blasphemous and discriminatory, a court filing showed on Wednesday.
He said the Police Force Ordinance bars officers from holding a bias against someone’s religion when he or she is carrying out his or her duty.
“Summoning an ‘unnatural person’ that is Jesus Christ is obviously absurd and illogical,” he wrote in the court document.
“Following the revelation in the news, it has left all followers, including myself, feeling offended and uncomfortable,” he added, directing the court action at the commissioner of police.
Tam has asked the police chief to issue a public apology. He has also demanded the High Court makes a ruling that the remark went beyond the power bestowed on officers under the Police Force Ordinance, and is therefore “unlawful and unreasonable”.
The controversial comment was raised by a priest at a meeting of church figures last Thursday held to discuss the protests.
The meeting came a day after Admiralty, a major financial hub, was brought to a standstill due to several clashes between the protesters and the police.
The protest was triggered by frustration over the government’s plan to amend extradition legislation, which would make it possible for fugitives in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China for trial, as well as other jurisdictions which have no extradition deal with the city.
The priest, who was at the demonstration, said the police officer in question spotted the group wearing clerical clothing, before telling them: “Ask your Jesus to come down and see us.”
Initially labelling the event as a riot, police fired 150 rounds of tear gas last Wednesday, almost twice the amount they had used to disperse crowds during the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014. Officers also dispatched beanbags and rubber bullets, a move that has drawn intense criticism.
Described by critics as “excessive force”, the police response added fuel to a further mass protest against the extradition proposals, which was attended by an estimated 2 million people on Sunday.
Since then, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung have backed down, saying not all clashes on June 12 were riots.
Lam, who offered her “most sincere apology” on Tuesday when she faced the public, had earlier suspended the bill indefinitely, but refused to cave in to public pressure for a complete withdrawal.
The alleged blasphemous remark was not the only gaffe that has put the police force under intense spotlight, as a result of their highly-scrutinised operation last week.
One of the officers, among several who have been accused of targeting journalists, was captured on camera yelling “report your mother” at a member of the press, which is a variation of a popular Cantonese profanity.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Violent Hong Kong clashes not defined as a ‘riot’, says adviser to embattled leader Carrie Lam as others offer backing and call for another chance despite extradition bill debacle
- Executive Council members join Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam in apologies over suspended extradition bill
- Hong Kong police ‘threatened, bullied and snubbed’ in public backlash against force’s handling of extradition bill protests
- Hong Kong protest organisers vow to press ahead with Sunday march despite government backing down on extradition bill – but Monday’s strike is off