Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

20 Aug, 2014

Growing rage over U.S. Govt Inaction to Curb Systemic Anti-Muslim Conduct

WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/14/14 — A coalition of 75 civil rights, ethnic, gender-rights and religious groups has sent a joint letter to the Obama administration urging it to take “immediate action to end the use of anti-Muslim training materials and address anti-Muslim conduct exhibited by agencies throughout the federal government.”

In a letter to Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa O. Monaco, the coalition wrote in part:

“This problem has persisted for many years, and recent revelations in a July 9, 2014 article in The Intercept underscore the urgent need to take concrete action to eliminate bias from our nation’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Those revelations include a template memorandum reportedly used to justify intelligence surveillance that has a reference to ‘Mohammed Raghead’ as the placeholder target. They also include an FBI official’s admission that he specifically sought surveillance on American Muslim targets.”

After citing examples of anti-Muslim training, the letter states:

“The use of anti-Muslim trainers and materials is not only highly offensive, disparaging the faith of millions of Americans, but leads to biased policing that targets individuals and communities based on religion, not evidence of wrongdoing. Government training materials that include religious epithets also foster fear and suspicion of American Muslims among law enforcement and the general public, increasing discrimination, bullying, harassment, and anti-Muslim violence.”

The letter says that “although there was reportedly a review and purge of a limited portion of training materials by the FBI, no commitment has been made to review intelligence products that mirror these biased training materials. We also have received no assurance that law enforcement and other government employees who participated in these trainings have been retrained. We are concerned that these biased trainings and intelligence products continue to drive racial and religious profiling at every stage of the intelligence-gathering process.

“Without executive branch actions, including those we recommend below, trainings that perpetuate gross stereotypes and false information about Islam and Muslims will continue to proliferate at the state and local level.”

Actions recommended in the letter, which was coordinated by Muslim Advocates, include:

  • Audit all federal law enforcement and intelligence gathering training and educational materials to identify and remove information that is factually incorrect or exhibits bias against any race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin;
  • Implement a mandatory retraining program for all federal, state and local law enforcement officials who have been subjected to biased and discriminatory trainings provided by the federal government or with federal funds;
  • Pursue disciplinary action against those agents and officials engaging in discriminatory conduct and responsible for these training materials;
  • Require federal agencies that provide law enforcement and homeland security funding to state and local governments to condition such funding on carrying out training or otherwise using federal funds in a manner that upholds our nation’s commitment to equal treatment and equal justice under the law and barring the use of trainers or materials that exhibit bias against any race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin.

Click here to access the full text of the letter.