Hong Kong's Islamic community has accused the police of racial stereotyping during an anti-terrorism exercise in which four mock hijackers of a passenger plane were labelled 'Middle Eastern'. The row has flared after an exercise at Chek Lap Kok on Wednesday during which officers from the Special Duties Unit 'rescued' 45 passengers from a 747 jet that was in transit from the Middle East to New Zealand. The four 'Middle Eastern' terrorists depicted in the exercise came from a fictional country. They took over the plane at Chek Lap Kok because a planned bomb attack on a Hong Kong bar had been foiled. However, the labelling of the men as Middle Eastern has angered representatives of the community in the SAR and prompted an admission by the government that officials need to be more sensitive. The issue of racial profiling is also to be discussed at a meeting this month between Islamic community leaders and top officials. 'The police have no right to label the terrorists as being Middle Eastern. We are clean and decent people who are supporting Hong Kong by paying taxes,' said the ex-president of the International Islamic Society, Kamaruddin Karamali. 'There is already discrimination here because the press is always mentioning this problem. What the police did was wrong.' The president of the United Muslim Association, Mohamed Alli Din, said the SAR Muslim community had been subject to this kind of discrimination since the September 11 attacks on the United States. 'We are a minority so we can't say anything against this,' he said. 'All we can do is let the public decide for themselves.' A police spokeswoman denied the exercise had targeted a specific racial group. She said the scenario was decided over the course of a few months and reflected recent public concerns. 'The details of the characters in the exercise are not important. We just needed to paint a clear picture so the officers can visualise the scenario better,' she said. However, according to US Consulate spokeswoman Susan Stevenson, nationalities are never mentioned in anti-terrorism exercises in the US. In the US, officers create a fictional country and identify their enemies only by colour - red for the enemy and blue for allies. A social worker for Unison (Hong Kong), Fermi Wong Wai-fun, who works regularly with ethnic minorities, accused the police of using stereotypes too easily and of making too many assumptions about Middle Eastern people. 'The police think that every Pakistani in Hong Kong has a connection to the al-Qaeda,' said Ms Wong. 'Pakistani people worry that they will forever remain outsiders and be labelled as terrorists.' Shirley Chan Wai-ching, senior programme officer for the race relations unit at the Home Affairs Bureau, said government staff needed to be more sensitive towards nationalities. 'We are trying to find out if different government departments have sensitivity training included in their staff programmes. We hope to promote the topic of racial harmony to all civil servants.' The president of the International Islamic Society, Zafrula Bhurtun, revealed that the Islam community is hoping to tackle the roots of the problem. The society has invited top officials to a dinner party organised by the Islamic community. 'We have invited the Secretary for Justice, the security chief and all the top government officials to our new year party on December 22,' he said. 'During the dinner, representatives from Islamic nations such as Kuwait, Dubai, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia will address the concerns of the community.'