A Navy SEAL training facility will not use an image of a Muslim woman wearing a hijab and aiming a gun as target practice after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. A photo of the image can be seen on The Virginian-Pilot.
Wrote Nihad Awad, CAIR’s director:
Using a Muslim woman wearing a religious head scarf with [verses from the] Quran behind her as a target for our nation’s military personnel is offensive and sends a negative and counterproductive message to trainees and to the Muslim-majority nations to which they may be deployed.
This is yet another example of why the Department of Defense needs to fix what appears to be an ongoing problem by consulting credible scholars and experts to review all training and training materials related to Islam or Muslims.
The image of the Muslim woman is not the only thing that is troubling about the $11.5 million training range in Fort Storey, Virginia. It is described as a “kill house” that contains different “zones,” some designed to resemble “mosque, bank, post office, market and residential compound,” an elementary school classroom and, something said to be “more sinister,” a “torture chamber accessed through a bus station wall.” “Details” for these “zones” were taken from “actual raids over the past decade” according to Capt. Tim Szymanski, the commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group Two.
The Virginian-Pilot emphasizes certain details in particular. One area contains “Styrofoam toilets in a deliberately filthy bathroom.” The manager of the complex, Larry Pacifico, says that he plans to use “smell generators” with “rotting meat and third-world bathroom” being two “options” to render “the training experience more vivid.”
All this, plus that cardboard image of a Muslim woman, give the facility the “vibe of a third-world country,” says The Virginian-Pilot.
It all also creates some — to completely understate the matter — highly negative perceptions about Muslims and the Middle East. Writes Omid Safi, a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on Religion News Service:
Can the folks in charge at the NAVY not see how this contributes to the dehumanizing of Muslims, not just Muslim women, not just Muslim civilians, but all Muslims?
On Friday, a Naval Special Warfare Group spokesman said that the target of the Muslim woman had been removed and that the Navy “will explore other options for future training,” according to The Virginian-Pilot. Is it too much to ask that some instruction in “cultural sensitivity 101″ be included?
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