(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/24/14) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today applauded a decision by a Virginia state agency to withdraw accreditation for a training program by John Guandolo, a notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist.
Last week, CAIR called on Virginia's Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to withdraw its accreditation for a three-day training program on "Jihadi Networks in America" that will be offered by Guandolo, who bizarrely claims that the current CIA director is a secret Muslim and asserts that American Muslims "do not have a First Amendment right to do anything." A similar request was sent to the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy, the agency that actually approved the DCJS accreditation.
In a statement issued earlier today, the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy said:
"After careful consideration and consultation with other law enforcement agencies and academies, having firsthand knowledge of this training, the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy will no longer be offering Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services in-service training credit for the upcoming seminar "Understanding and Investigating Jihadi Networks in America."
"The Academy has apologized to those law enforcement agencies and personnel affected by this decision and will work to ensure those officers receive the in-service training credits necessary and relevant to their positions."
"We applaud the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy and the Department of Criminal Justice Services for responding promptly and professionally to community concerns about the biased and conspiratorial content of Mr. Guandolo's training program," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "This welcome action sends the message that Virginia law enforcement authorities will receive only fact-based, objective training that does not stereotype any minority groups or faiths."
A representative of CAIR and a leader of the Culpeper, Va., Muslim community today offered a presentation on Islam and Islamophobia to sheriff's officers one day ahead of Guandolo's training.
On Friday, representatives of the Muslim community and CAIR met with Culpeper County Sheriff Scott H. Jenkins. During that meeting, the sheriff agreed to today's presentation.
"We hope that today's presentation will provide sheriff's officers with the accurate information needed to identify and disprove Mr. Guandolo's conspiracy theories," said CAIR Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia Director Corey Saylor, who offered part of today's presentation. "We thank the Southern Poverty Law Center for bringing this matter to the public's attention."
Guandolo refers to America's mosques and Islamic centers as "barracks" and falsely claims "it is a permanent command in Islam for Muslims to hate and despise Jews and Christians."
A 2012 article in the Tennessean newspaper reported Guandolo's belief that mosques are "front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood with no right to exist."
During a 2012 anti-Muslim training in Tennessee, Guandolo was videoed shoving a local news camera that attempted to record the training. He is linked to one of the nation's most vicious anti-Muslim groups, ACT! for America.
SEE: ACT! for America to Launch Anti-Muslim Website for Law Enforcement
CAIR Islamophobia Backgrounder: ACT! for America and 'Brigitte Gabriel'
Following calls for reform by CAIR and other groups following revelations of apparently widespread anti-Muslim bias in the training of law enforcement, security and military personnel nationwide, the Obama administration removed biased and inaccurate materials about Islam from federal trainings.
An 80-page report by Political Research Associates (PRA), titled "Manufacturing the Muslim Menace: Private Firms, Public Servants, & the Threat to Rights and Security," 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 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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