One of the FBI’s flagship counter extremism programs has come under scrutiny by the American Federation of Teachers Union (AFT) and other lobby groups who have slammed it as unfairly singling out Muslims, according to the Wall Street Journal.
‘Don’t Be a Puppet’ is a website set up by the FBI which aims to draw people away from extremism by teaching them about different types of extremism and various atrocities that have been committed by terrorists in the past, including the 2001 Twin Towers attack (by Islamist terrorists) and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing (by anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh).
The site talks about extremism in general rather than Islamist extremism in particular. It is arranged as a game that students can complete.
In coalition with the American Association of School Administrators and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the AFT wrote a letter to FBI Director James Comey in August saying they were “deeply troubled” by the site which they felt unfairly targeted Muslim students.
Among other things in the video, the AFT objected to a video of a Muslim woman saying she viewed the FBI as “the enemy.”
“We know we need to be hypervigilant. But there’s a difference between being hypervigilant and engaging in racial profiling,” AFT President Randi Weingarten told media.“This program, while probably well intended, shouldn’t go forward.”
“I have students who want to join the FBI, who want to be in the military,” Jane Mazza, an AFT member and teacher at a high school in Dearborn, Michigan, said. “If we’re trying to discourage the extremist point of view, we need to work on telling kids that America is the land of opportunity.”
Yet the program has already been altered to fit the requirements of Muslim lobby groups. The site was originally slated to launch in November 2015, but the earlier draft contained references to Islamic extremism and Islam. Following pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the site was altered to remove all references to Islamism or Islamic extremism. The terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers, for example, are listed simply as “Al-Qaeda extremists.”
The updated site was launched in February 2016.
“We’ve seen a growing trend of violent extremist groups trying to recruit teenagers, especially over the internet,” FBI Director James Comey says in a video message on the Don’t Be a Puppet website. “We created this website to talk about violent extremism, what it is, who it impacts and how to recognize it if you, or someone you love is being recruited.”