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VOL. 36 | NO. 7 | Friday, February 17, 2012




Panel approves training critics call anti-Muslim

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NASHVILLE (AP) - A state panel on Friday unanimously approved credits for a law enforcement training course that critics have called anti-Muslim.

The Muslim civil rights organization Council on American-Islamic Relations is among those that have publicly denounced the "Understanding the Threat to America" course by the Strategic Engagement Group, a Virginia nonprofit.

"False and inaccurate training is ultimately counterproductive and could have a detrimental effect on officers' ability to fairly police the community they serve," reads a Tuesday letter from Washington-D.C.,-based CAIR to the state's Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission.

The letter asks POST Commission Director Brian Grisham to investigate the appropriateness of the training and singles out trainer John Guandolo for scrutiny.

Guandolo recently told a Nashville audience that local mosques are part of the Muslim Brotherhood and do not have a right to con stitutional protections.

The training took place in Rutherford County, the site of a heated controversy over the construction of a new mosque that has led to court battles and the arson of construction equipment.

Members of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office participated in the training earlier this week and asked the POST Commission to approve it so that deputies could use it as part of their required 40-hours-per-year of in-service training.

The commission gave its unanimous approval at its Friday meeting without discussing the objections, although Grisham did mention that there had been a complaint and the letter from CAIR was included in the commission's packet.

Sen. Jim Summerville was attending his first meeting as a new commission member. Asked about his vote, he said, "I support training for anti-terrorism." He added that based on the information he had seen so far about this particular course, he had no objections to it.

Sheriff Robe rt Arnold, in an interview, said he did not think the training was anti-Muslim.

"We're just trying to get information and knowledge," he said. "Lady justice is blind and we will always protect the citizens of Rutherford County."

Arnold said he wished "both sides" would put together a training that they could agree on so that the sheriff's office wouldn't have to deal with the controversy.

SEG President EJ Kimball also defended the training in an interview, saying it was "meant to provide the law enforcement community with tools to understand the threat from the Muslim Brotherhood specifically in the United States."

Among those to complain about the training were two Tennessee groups - the American Center for Outreach and the American Muslims Advisory Council.

Advisory Council board member Kasar Abdulla said she is concerned that the training paints all Muslims as potential terrorists and sows suspicion of local Muslims among law enforcement. The training schedule included a session titled, "Muslim Brotherhood Presence in Locale of Presentation."

"As a mother of two little girls, I am concerned about what is being polarized in the minds of law enforcement," Abdulla said. "In particular, those are the ones that are supposed to help us."

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