MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 8, 2011) — Leaders of a number of Minnesota Muslim and Somali organizations today called on law enforcement agencies across the state to reject an upcoming training seminar for officers because of concerns about apparent anti-Muslim and anti-Somali bias.
The controversial training, “Understanding the People of Somalia, Their History, Their Culture and Their Lives in America,” is scheduled for November 10 in St. Paul, Minn. It is sponsored by the Center for Somalia History Studies (CSHS), which was founded last month by former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.
On Monday, the Muslim and Somali community leaders sent a letter to law enforcement agencies questioning the presenters’ lack of credentials and their history of “unsubstantiated, hate-inspired and fear-mongering” statements against the Somali and Muslim community. They asked law enforcement agencies who have registered for the seminar to withdraw their participation.
The letter also stated, in part:
“Trainings by unqualified, agenda-driven individuals influence the way peace officers perceive and treat the American Muslim community, leading to a rise in racial and religious profiling. Recent reports have highlighted the FBI’s use of biased experts and anti-Muslim training materials nationwide. This problem extends well beyond FBI trainings. The United States Congress is now scrutinizing these practices.
“In light of this prevalence of inaccurate and biased information, law enforcement agencies around the country must take a closer look at the credentials of purported experts on Muslims, including Somali Muslims, before allowing their officers to be trained by them.”
A letter was also sent to the State of Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Trainings urging the accreditation board to remove police licensing credits for the training.
Signatories to the letter include: Abubakr As-Siddiq Islamic Center; Building Blocks of Islam; Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota; EngageMN; Imam Hussain Islamic Center; Irshad Islamic Center; Islamic Resource Group; Ja’afari Islamic Center; Karmel Business Association; Masjid Al-Ihsan; Masjid An-Nur; Muslim American Society of Minnesota; Sisters Need a Place; Somali Action Alliance; Women of Africa Resources and Development Association; World Peace Organization; Young Somali-American Advisory Council to U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, among others.