Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2011
Islamophobia in the US, May 27, 2011:
CAIR Asks Secretary Napolitano to Probe Use of Islamophobic Trainers
CAIR Asks Sec. Napolitano to Probe Use of Islamophobic Trainers Renewed request comes following use of ethnic stereotypes in Minn. airport drill
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/23/11) --
A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today called on Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to conduct an agency-wide investigation of the use of outside trainers who offer hostile, stereotypical and grossly inaccurate information about Muslims and Islam to the nation's security personnel.
That request by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) came after revelations that ethnic stereotypes were used as part of a controversial security drill at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. During the drill, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel used a person "who appeared to be Middle Eastern in descent or Indian/Pakistani" to test screening procedures.
Over the weekend, it was also revealed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) paid a notorious Islamophobe $5,000 for a recent appearance at a conference sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
The speaker, Walid Shoebat, claims "Islam is the devil" and that President Obama is a Muslim. Shoebat once told a Missouri newspaper that he sees "many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam" and "Islam is not the religion of God -- Islam is the devil." (Springfield News-Leader, 9/24/07) CAIR asked DPS to drop its endorsement of the conference.
In a letter sent today to Secretary Napolitano, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:
"The use and funding of Islamophobic private trainers harms our nation's safety and security and contradicts both DHS policy and your public statements on improving relations with the American Muslim community. Promoting anti-Muslim hostility only serves to tear down hard-won trust and spread unjustified fear and suspicion.
"The fact that repeated calls for government investigations of this disturbing trend have gone unanswered sends a very negative message to American Muslims and to the larger society.
"Islamophobic trainers are undercutting your efforts and those of President Obama, who repeatedly states that our nation is not at war with Islam or Muslims."
CAIR has in the past called on the Obama administration, DHS, the Department of Defense, and Congress to provide oversight for apparently widespread anti-Muslim bias in the training of law enforcement and security and military personnel nationwide.
Trainers for American military personnel have included Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer, co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA). SIOA has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
CAIR's renewed request for oversight comes following the release of an 80-page report, titled "Manufacturing the Muslim Menace: Private Firms, Public Servants, & the Threat to Rights and Security," released by Political Research Associates (PRA) that details a systemic failure to regulate content in counterterrorism training.
Washington Monthly magazine also published a major investigative article showing similar anti-Islam attitudes by private trainers of law enforcement agencies.
CAIR's New York chapter (CAIR-NY) called on the New York Police Department (NYPD) to investigate how a notorious anti-Muslim propaganda film came to be used in mandatory counterterrorism training.
CAIR made a similar request of counterterrorism and military leaders not to employ Muslim-bashers as trainers following a Washington Post investigative report on post-9/11 government surveillance, which stated: "Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies."
Last year, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) acknowledged that an anti-Islam film should not have been used in training offered to security personnel by that military law enforcement agency.
CAIR contacted NCIS after receiving a report that a three-day NCIS surveillance detection course at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., included the viewing of a propagandistic anti-Islam film.
Copies of the letter are being sent to:
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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