Muslim civil rights group says portraying Arabs and Muslims as the ”˜enemy’ could negatively impact Muslim students and feeds false and harmful stereotypes
(ANAHEIM, CA, 4/26/2018) – The Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today called for an immediate end to — and apology for – the use of stereotypical “enemy” attire in UCLA Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) training that teaches cadets to suspect and view Muslim civilians as potential threats.
CAIR-LA said the training had cadets target individuals dressed in civilian clothing predominantly found in Arab countries, thereby promoting the impression that Muslim civilians are potential terrorists.
“The attire used in the drill promotes the disturbing message that all Muslims are inherently dangerous and should be treated with suspicion; a distorted perspective that directly impacts and harms American Muslims,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. “Such practices contribute to the dehumanization and demonization of Muslims and result in increased hate incidents targeting the Islamic community.”
Marwa Rifahie, a civil rights attorney for CAIR-LA, said the trainings could lead to bias against Muslim students and may violate the First Amendment Establishment Clause, which prohibits schools receiving federal funding from promoting or disparaging any religion.
Rifahie said: “This training negligently promotes an image of Muslims as dangerous. Our office has seen a deterioration of welcoming climates statewide for Muslim students. This training is likely to contribute to a hostile environment on UCLA’s campus.”
According to a report released by CAIR earlier this week, 2,599 anti-Muslim bias incidents were reported to CAIR, an increase of 17 percent nationwide compared to the previous year. Locally, CAIR-LA office received reports of 443 anti-Muslim bias incidents.
CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications manager Eugene W. Fields, firstname.lastname@example.org, 714-851-4851