America’s ‘Islamophobia machine’ doing great damage
WASHINGTON: A prominent Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization is urging the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department not to use anti-Muslim extremists to train counterterrorism officials.
That request by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, comes following a Washington Post investigative report on post-9/11 government surveillance, which stated: “Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and US intelligence agencies.”
The Post released the report on the extensive security measures entitled “Top Secret America.”
The investigation was first released in July of 2010, and is a series that is being updated, with its latest installment “Monitoring America” released on Dec. 20.
As a result, Ibrahim Hooper, the Communications Director for the Council for CAIR spoke out on Iranian TV against what he called the rising Islamophobia in the US.
The investigation goes into what the Washington Post calls the “fourth branch” of government, private intelligence communities that have the goal of defeating “violent extremists” according to the report.
The organizations, 263 of which have been created or reorganized in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, receive billions of dollars from the government, and do not adhere to the usual standards of personal privacy, the report said.
Critics of the security measures find flaws, not only in the billions used to fund the operation, but the possibility of profiling innocent individuals.
“The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of US citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously,” the latest report said.
This database is updated by “experts” who receive their expert status from themselves, not previous studies in institutions. They train FBI members in the understanding Islam, Muslims, and American Muslims, said the report.
“These organizations often use self-described specialists to provide training for FBI and analysts who are supposedly specialists on Islam. People who have no PhD , and who have animosity towards Islam,” said Sally Howell, PhD, a professor of history and Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn told reporters. “It’s distressing to see these people are empowered in America.”
Muslim activists say the problem is that when suspicious activity is reported, often by neighbors or co-workers for reasons that are not always clear, the accused individual is not informed, and the file remains open for five years. This could lead to profiling and abuse.
CAIR’s Hooper said that as a result of the rising Islamophobia in the US, Muslims and Islamic organizations are worried that US citizens are supporting and buying propaganda of the media, internet hate sites, politicians and organizations that all Muslims are dangerous.
“We are obviously concerned when law enforcement authorities around the country are being trained almost on a daily basis by people who have a hate filled anti-Muslim agenda. That’s been proven time and time again. You have a guy named Robert Spencer, the head of one of the most vicious anti-Muslim hate groups in the country, and a co-head of this group called Stop the Islamization of America, training FBI agents in Virginia. It’s absolutely unbelievable. You have people like Walid Shoebat, a born-again Christian who was a former Muslim, who said Islam is of the devil and he’s training these people. We are seeing this more and more. So it’s inevitable that the law enforcement, policies and practices will eventually reflect this anti-Muslim hatred,” said Hooper.
He continued saying that there is a very vocal anti-Muslim minority promoting the hatred of Islam and marginalization of American Muslims.
“They have an agenda, they are well coordinated, they are well financed, and they are relentless in their promotion of hate filled views. You’ve seen the group Stop the Islamization of America, you’ve got ACT for America, you’ve got any number of other local groups and activists who are mutually supportive and promoting this hate filled agenda.”
CAIR’s Hooper continued saying that there is an ’Islamophobia machine’ of Islamophobes who are a “mutually supportive growing group of commentators, organizations, media outlets, Internet hate sites that all actively promote the false notion that American Muslims somehow want to overthrow the constitution and take over the country.
“It would be laughable in other circumstances that you would say a tiny little minority in a nation of 300 and some million is somehow going to overthrow the country, but it’s a symptom of the times we live in that people are actually entertaining this bizarre notion. So they are promoting this relentlessly.”
He insisted that these groups do not represent the majority of Americans. “The majority of Americans don’t hate Islam and Muslims. But you have a sizeable minority, and a very vocal minority pushing these kinds of bigoted views,” said CAIR’s Hooper.
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