10/08/11: Special meeting held by BRIDGES to discuss discriminatory FBI training guides

Special meeting held by BRIDGES to discuss discriminatory FBI training guides

Saturday, 10.08.2011, 09:48am

DEARBORN — On Tuesday, October 4, 2011, BRIDGES held a special meeting to discuss the Arab and Muslim American community's concerns regarding an FBI training session conducted for 37 FBI agents earlier this year.  During the training session, the instructor included offensive misconceptions about the Islamic faith in the training manual and presented material that resembled Islamaphobic rhetoric.   

Approximately 100 BRIDGES members, including representatives of various federal agencies, state and local law enforcement agencies, and Ms. Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Michigan, gathered to address the issue on both the national and local levels.  Mr. Andrew Arena, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office, addressed the BRIDGES members about the importance of acknowledging the issue's sensitive nature and the negative impact it has created.  He affirmed that the information included in the FBI training manual has been removed and the agencies are reviewing their guidelines to ensure that such an experience will not be repeated.  Arena stressed the significance of ongoing engagement with the Arab and Muslim community in Michigan, serving as a model to the rest of the nation. 

 Community leaders and representatives from different organizations, including Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America and Imam Mohamad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, expressed their disappointment about the disturbing nature of the training and questioned how such anti-Islamic and racist information was permitted and what measures can be taken in order to prevent such an incident from occurring again.  The community leaders offered resources to help the FBI and all other government agencies educate their employees about Islam by providing accurate facts by scholars and experts.  Both imams also invited and encouraged agencies to visit their mosques in order to gain a clearer perspective about Muslims and the diversity within Islam.  

 "The discussion was very frank, constructive and directly addressed this unfortunate and disturbing matter," said Imad Hamad, BRIDGES Co-Chair and ADC Regional Director/Sr. National Advisor. "Our community stands firm that such misrepresentations of any noble faith, including Islam, will not be taken lightly and that constructive dialogue is the only way to address it."