DALLAS – April 7, 2016 – Muslim Legal Fund of America joined more than a dozen national civil rights organizations in an April 5 letter to FBI Director James Comey in which the signatories request that the agency take down a controversial website that the coalition claims promotes negative stereotypes of Muslims and “encourages the policing of thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.”
The website, called “Don’t be a Puppet,” encourages teachers and students to report fellow classmates or anyone else who they suspect of travelling to “suspicious” countries or speaking “suspicious” languages. Representatives from MLFA said that drafting teaches and children to as informants and then teaching them to develop and use anti-Muslim bias as justification for reporting Muslims to the FBI will creating an even more chilling environment for a society claiming to enjoy freedom of speech and religion.
“No one will argue against safeguarding our communities, but this is not what this website does,” said Khalil Meek, executive director of MLFA. “The instruction it provides tells visitors that American-Muslim children are outsiders, that they don’t deserve the same due process rights as everyone else.”
Meek went further to say that this is simply the latest in a series of controversies involving the FBI and anti-Muslim bias. In 2011, the FBI was caught teaching its agents that “mainstream” Muslims are “violent, radical.” The agency employed trainers who taught anti-Muslim bias and used material from discredited Islamophobes such as Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer. (Sources: http://www.wired.com/2011/09/fbi-muslims-radical/and http://www.wired.com/2011/09/fbi-islam-domination/)
In late 2011, former FBI agent Mike German told Wired that “seeing the materials the FBI agents are being trained with certainly helps explain why we’ve seen so many inappropriate FBI surveillance operations broadly targeting the Muslim-America community” and that “biased police training can only result in biased policing.” (Source: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2011/fbi-used-training-materials-anti-muslim-extremists)
In 2012, the FBI was caught using “mosque outreach” programs to spy on American-Muslims based solely on their religious identity. At that time, ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi told MSNBC that “the bureau’s documentation of religious leaders’ and congregants’ beliefs and practices violates the Privacy Act, which Congress passed to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights.” (Source: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/03/29/10907668-aclu-fbi-mosque-outreach-program-used-to-spy-on-muslims)
In 2014, The Washington Post revealed that law enforcement agencies were still using anti-Muslim trainers and training material that teach officers to be suspicious of Americans based on their religious beliefs. (Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/anti-muslim-speakers-still-popular-in-law-enforcement-training/2014/03/12/bc8d8e30-aa1c-11e3-8a7b-c1c684e2671f_story.html)
“We’ve been observing a pattern,” Meek said. “And it’s one in which law enforcement appears to be establishing a separate judicial system for Muslims where due process, religious freedom and other basic rights affording to everyone by the U.S. Constitution do not apply.”
Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a national civil liberties legal fund that defends the U.S. Bill of Rights by supporting legal cases involving civil liberty encroachments. Established in 2001, MLFA has defended freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, due process of law and many of our nation’s civil liberties.