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Pentagon Probes Training Course on Islam
BY OMAR SACIRBEY ©2012 Religion News Service
he Pentagon is investigating whether military officials ignored complaints from senior officers about a course that was found to have inflammatory and inaccurate content about Islam.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, ordered the inquiry on April 24, the same day he canceled "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism," a training course that asserted that Islam was at war with the West. The course had been offered as an elective at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, since 2004.
Roughly 20 officers have complained about the course's content, although it's not clear when, or to whom, or what kind of action was taken. "We don't know what was done with those objections," said Cmdr. Patrick McNally, a Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman.
The inquiry will also look into how the course made it into Joint Forces Staff College curriculum, the faiths of the complaining officers, and whether any other courses have content that is offensive to Islam or other religions or cultures.
"I am concerned that academic institutions within (the Department of Defense) may be presenting material ... which goes well beyond merely presenting alternative intellectual viewpoints on radicalism to advocating ideas, beliefs, and actions that are contrary to our national policy, inconsistent with the values of our profession, and disrespectful of the Islamic religion," wrote Dempsey in a memo ordering the inquiry.
Dempsey had ordered a separate review last October following news reports that FBI courses contained Islamophobic materials, but ordered the new review after doubting "whether all parties understood the spirit and intent" of the earlier request.
The inquiry report is due back May 24, although it is not clear when it will be released to the public.