Police have come under fire after it emerged they stopped a schoolboy for interrogation, as he was wearing a dark veil, and then asked him if he was a member of the Taliban, the former Islamist rulers of Afghanistan, adding insult to injury.
His veil was in fact due to being afflicted by porphyria, an illness rendering the skin highly susceptible to the sun.
The boy, an 18-year-old high school student, was riding home with a companion on a bicycle, when two vigilant policemen spotted him.
Immediately recognising the danger of him being up to no good, one of the policemen stopped them, barking “You with the funny clothes, stop!”
After this the sharp witted officer questioned him: “You a member of the Taliban?”, and then demanded he remove his funny veil. Satisfied that he was not in fact an Islamic terrorist, the pair were apparently allowed to be on their way.
The next day, the boy and his mother submitted complaints to the police station responsible, and received an apology; police brass then ordered a DVD explaining the illness distributed through the force, and directed that illness awareness be pursued to prevent future incidents involving potential Taliban.
Porphyria itself is a disorder which can result in hypersensitivity to sunlight, with skin swelling and being damaged by exposure.
A dermatology professor at Kobe university commented that “In order to restrict exposure to sunlight, we advise such coverings. Calling such a sufferer “Taliban” is pure ignorance, and is quite outrageous.”
The incident came to light when it was brought to the attention of the Tottori prefectural assembly, who sharply criticised police conduct. The police chief with whom the buck stopped apologised, saying “It was inappropriate.”
An example of the garb: