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FBI ditches training materials criticized as anti-Muslim

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By Niraj Warikoo

Detroit: After complaints from some Muslim and Arab-American groups, the FBI has pulled more than 700 documents and 300 presentations that stereotyped Islam or were factually inaccurate, an FBI spokesman said. The federal agency also intends in coming weeks to roll out plans on how it will vet training materials.

FBI Director Robert Mueller announced the agency had pulled the documents at a meeting two weeks ago with advocacy groups.

"The steps taken by the FBI … are certainly welcomed," Abed Ayoub, the national director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said Friday.

Ayoub and members of six other religious or ethnic groups met with Mueller in Washington, D.C., to discuss their concerns. They expressed opposition to training materials and presentations by experts for FBI agents that they considered anti-Muslim. Some of the materials say Islam promotes violence and extremism.

It's an issue closely watched in metro Detroit, where a sizable Arab-American and Muslim population has been targeted during the past decade in the war on terrorism.

"Mueller informed the participants that the FBI took the review of the training material very seriously, and he pursued the matter with urgency to ensure that this does not occur again in the future," the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said Wednesday in a news release.
FBI spokesman Christopher Allen confirmed Thursday that the meeting took place and that some documents have been pulled. Allen also said the FBI soon will have final plans that will give clear guidelines on what training materials the agency can use.

A fall report in Wired magazine said the FBI was relying on anti-Muslim materials. In response to that and other earlier reports, the FBI reviewed almost all of its training materials, including more than 160,000 pages of documents.

Additionally, the head of the Detroit FBI office, Andrew Arena, met with about 50 Arab-American and Muslim leaders in October to address their concerns about anti-Muslim training. And U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan worked on outreach, speaking on an Arab-American radio show to assuage concerns.

The removed documents made up less than 1% of the total, Allen said. They were removed if they were either in poor taste, had factual errors, were stereotypical or lacked precision.
Imad Hamad, regional director of the Michigan chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, praised the move, saying Friday there has been concern among Arab Americans and Muslims as to how FBI agents are trained. But he says more needs to be done.

"I see it as a good step in the right direction, but it still needs some closure," Hamad said. "We need more understanding and more active participation in the process."

(Courtesy: USA Today)
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