An Arab man is being questioned by law-enforcement officers and suddenly becomes uncooperative and refuses to make eye contact. Suspicious behavior or a clash of cultures?

The latter, according to a new training DVD that will be distributed to nearly 200,000 Homeland Security employees. A panel of Arab and Muslim scholars shown in the training video said it’s a misconception that the action is evasive — Arab culture considers it impolite to stare.

“The times in which we live, I think it is very important that all Americans understand Islam — for law enforcement, it can be a matter of life and death,” said Akbar Ahmed, professor of international relations at American University and one panelist in the video.

“Take the security aspects of 9/11. All 19 hijackers and terrorists: Muslims. American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan: Muslim nations. The most-wanted people on the terror list: Osama bin Laden and [Abu Musab] Zarqawi: Muslims.”

Mr. Ahmed said Muslims are also supporters and allies of the U.S., and that “it is important at this stage in history to understand Islam.”

Daniel Sutherland, Homeland Security’s officer for civil rights and civil liberties, said in an interview that the DVD is intended to provide instructions on protecting the nation, not political appeasement of any one group. He said training is also offered for dealing with the handicapped at airport security, and in dealing with the Amish population, which does not use photo identification.


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