Joint Statement on Meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller

Joint Statement on Meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller

Washington, DC | www.muflehun.org | February 15, 2012 – In a continuing effort to address concerns related to inflammatory training material, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently met with community and interfaith organizations to provide an update on steps taken by the agency to rectify the matter. On Wednesday, February 8, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Arab American Institute (AAI), Interfaith Alliance, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muflehun, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), and the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign had an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Public Affairs Office of the FBI. Director Robert Mueller joined the meeting to discuss these matters with the representatives from the organizations.

The conversation with Director Mueller centered on material used by the agency that depicts falsehoods and negative connotations of the Muslim American community. The use of the material was first uncovered by Wired Magazine in an article published on September 14, 2011. Director 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.

Humera Khan, Executive Director at Muflehun, stated, “We appreciate Director Mueller and the FBI’s commitment to addressing the serious issue of discriminatory training materials. The new touchstone guidelines to shape future trainings are welcome and will help in rebuilding trust with the American Muslim community.”

The Director also informed participants that to date, nearly all related FBI training materials, including more than 160,000 pages of documents, were reviewed by subject matter experts multiple times. Consequently more than 700 documents and 300 presentations of material have been deemed unusable by the Bureau and pulled from the training curriculum. Material was pulled from the curriculum if even one component was deemed to 1) include factual errors, 2) be in poor taste, 3) be stereotypical, or 4) lack precision.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to share with Director Mueller other matters of concern to community members. Issues related to privacy, including the surveillance of mosques, were discussed. It was clear to all meeting participants that the issue of trust between community members and the FBI needs to be taken seriously by all of our nation’s decision-makers. It was also evident that the Bureau must strengthen its efforts to build trust. The Director has testified before Congress about the invaluable contribution that the Muslim community makes to our nation’s security, noting a recent bomb plot in Tampa, FL that was foiled thanks to a joint effort by the FBI and the local Muslim community.

The changes proposed by the FBI to the training modules are a welcomed first step in ensuring that such a mistake does not occur again in the future. The group asked the FBI Director to issue a formal statement on this matter acknowledging the negative impact of these training materials on the Muslim community. Representatives from the community and interfaith organizations also stressed the importance of transparency by the Bureau in dealing with these matters, and suggested that a committee of community leaders and experts be assembled to review training material issued by the FBI. Meeting participants requested that the training process be open and transparent moving forward and requested future meetings with Director Mueller to continue the conversation.

Muflehun Co-sponsors Event on “Understanding Extremism”

Muflehun Co-sponsors Event on “Understanding Extremism”

Muflehun co-sponsored a round-table discussion for government officials and NGOs with Sheikh Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Director and Founder of Dar al Mustafa in Yemen. The event focused on “Understanding Extremism, Embracing Tradition: Can Islamic Theology Help Undermine Violent Extremism?”

Habib Umar addressed the issue from the perspective of traditional Islamic scholarship, and highlighted how extremism has no place within the religion of Islam, giving the analogy of the Kharijites who were excommunicated because of their deviance.

Additionally, he highlighted the need for intervention to turn violent extremists away from aggression, and in the circumstance that they are unwilling to change their perspectives, the need to work with law enforcement for the security of society.

A central theme of the discussion was the need for traditional scholarship, as the lack of authentic religious education is a common factor amongst violent extremists. Books and internet-based studying while important and beneficial are not a substitute for learning through legitimate scholars.

Congressman Keith Ellison article on “Should we fear Islam”

Congressman Keith Ellison article on “Should we fear Islam”

The ABC network recently had a town hall segment on “This Week with Christiane Amanpour” called “Should Americans Fear Islam?” The show was memorable not so much in the content/quality of the debate but in the buzz it generated because of its guest list which included bigots on both sides of the aisle. Missing on the 6 person panel were any moderates representing the rest of America or even any “indigenous” Muslim Americans (who are actually the majority of Muslims in the US).

Congressman Keith Ellison wrote a piece for the Washington Post that addresses the topic and is worth reading. The whole piece can be read here. Included below is an excerpt:

No serious journalist would ask a random black guy with a briefcase on the street to explain the pathology of an African American criminal because of the coincidence of shared skin color. But serious journalists called on ordinary Muslim Americans to explain the behavior of homicidal maniacs and extremists, thereby making the link between the crazies and the mainstream community.