Does course on Islam give law enforcers wrong idea?

Posted on May 23, 2008

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By Janet I. Tu

Seattle Times religion reporter

Some local Muslim community members are upset about a training course for local law enforcement, saying it could promote stereotypes and ethnic and religious profiling.

The program, called “The Threat of Islamic Jihadists to the World” and conducted by a Miami-based company, began Thursday and continues today at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission campus in Burien.

It is billed as providing insight into the formative phases of Islam, the religion’s different branches, radical Islam and how to respond to terrorist acts.

But Arsalan Bukhari, president of the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said the program appears to be linking an entire religion to terrorism.

“Most police officers don’t have a basic grounding in Islam, so before you teach them about Islam, how can you teach them about radical Islam?” he asked. “It just makes you nervous because when a law-enforcement person pulls someone over, when they see a Muslim person or someone who appears Muslim to them — all this information they just learned kicks in.”

Bukhari believes the need for police training on issues of profiling and bias was highlighted by an incident last summer in which the FBI launched an international search for two men who took photos below deck on a Washington state ferry. The FBI announced earlier this month that the men were tourists, not terrorists. [more]

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