Arab, Muslim Cultures Focus of Law Enforcement Video

Article excerpt

Byline: Audrey Hudson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

An Arab man is being questioned by law-enforcement officers and suddenly becomes uncooperative and refuses to make eye contact. Suspicious behavior or a clash of cultures?

The latter, according to a new training DVD that will be distributed to nearly 200,000 Homeland Security employees. A panel of Arab and Muslim scholars shown in the training video said it's a misconception that the action is evasive Arab culture considers it impolite to stare.

"The times in which we live, I think it is very important that all Americans understand Islam for law enforcement, it can be a matter of life and death," said Akbar Ahmed, professor of international relations at American University and one panelist in the video.

"Take the security aspects of 9/11. All 19 hijackers and terrorists: Muslims. American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan: Muslim nations. The most-wanted people on the terror list: Osama bin Laden and [Abu Musab] Zarqawi: Muslims."

Mr. Ahmed said Muslims are also supporters and allies of the U.S., and that "it is important at this stage in history to understand Islam."

Daniel Sutherland, Homeland Security's officer for civil rights and civil liberties, said in an interview that the DVD is intended to provide instructions on protecting the nation, not political appeasement of any one group. He said training is also offered for dealing with the handicapped at airport security, and in dealing with the Amish population, which does not use photo identification.

A copy of the Arabic and Muslim training DVD provided to The Washington Times backs up Mr. Sutherland's description.

The 45-minute video of a roundtable discussion with Muslim and Arab scholars and authorities begins with an introduction by John McWethy, former ABC Pentagon correspondent, who says, "This course is not about political correctness, nor is it about what people call sensitivity training."

Although the presentation can be elementary, discussing various head covers worn by men and women and what the Koran is, the video tries to clear roadblocks for law enforcement by teaching about Arab and Muslim cultures and answer basic questions, such as what to do if someone is praying in an airport. …