FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CAIR Asks Tenn. to Drop Anti-Muslim Law Enforcement Trainer
Training held at church whose pastor said: ‘We have a duty to investigate anyone under the banner of Islam’
(Washington, D.C., 2/14/2012) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today asked an official responsible for Tennessee’s law enforcement training not to allow an organization with an anti-Muslim agenda any future opportunity to train officers in that state.
The Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization asked Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Director Brian Grisham to investigate the appropriateness of a week-long police training in Murfreesboro, Tenn., by an organization that claims the “Islamic movement” is a threat to American civil liberties and calls Islamic centers “potential military compounds.”
CAIR contacted the Rutherford County, Tenn., Sherriff’s Department, which is reported to be counting the sessions by the Virginia-based Strategic Engagement Group (SEG) as more than half of the annual training requirement for its officers.
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The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department is responsible for investigating an arson and repeated acts of vandalism at the construction site of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro that has faced fierce opposition since it was first proposed.
The week-long training series is being held at the World Outreach Church, the pastor of which has said: “We have a duty to investigate anyone under the banner of Islam.”
John Guandolo, a senior SEG official who is leading the training, left the FBI shortly after reports surfaced that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with a key witness in a corruption trial. During this week’s training he was videoed shoving a local news camera that attempted to record the event.
Last summer, NPR reported on similar training conducted by Guandolo in Ohio, in which he falsely accused an Ohio Muslim who worked for the state government of being associated with terrorism. “There’s growing evidence that many of these training sessions are providing officers at the grass roots with a biased view of Muslims in America,” the article stated.
In a letter to Grisham, CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor said in part:
“We believe that SEG’s agenda-driven approach does not meet the real need for quality training for the men and women who protect public safety in Tennessee. False and inaccurate training is ultimately counterproductive and could have a detrimental effect on officers’ ability to fairly police the community they serve.”
Saylor noted that this Tennessee training is just the latest in a trend of individuals with a strong Islamophobic bias being hired to train law enforcement officers across the country.
CAIR has in the past called on the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security, 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.
In May, CAIR asked Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to conduct an agency-wide investigation of the use of outside trainers who offer hostile and grossly inaccurate information about Muslims and Islam to the nation’s security personnel.
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 noted the release last year of an 80-page report by Political Research Associates (PRA), titled “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace: Private Firms, Public Servants, & the Threat to Rights and Security,” which 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 similarly requested 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.”
A number of recent reports have documented the growth and promotion of Islamophobia nationwide.
CAIR: Same Hate, New Target
Center for American Progress: Fear, Inc.
Southern Poverty Law Center: Jihad Against Islam
People for the American Way: The Right-Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism
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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CONTACT: CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org