Muslims & Arabs Concerned

The FBI has designed a game-style Web site about extremism meant to be used by teachers and students to spot and prevent radicalization of youth, say Muslim and Arab advocacy groups who were briefed by the agency on the program and fear it will foment discrimination against Muslims.

Some members of the handful of groups said the program, which they believe to be the first aimed at the nation’s schools, frames violent extremism heavily through the lens of Islam and that they had complained strongly. 

The groups include those who work and communicate regularly with law enforcement and the government on the topic of radicalization, including the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee.

The Web site, called “Don’t Be A Puppet,” was scheduled to be live Monday but was put temporarily on hold in the last few days.

The FBI declined to confirm details of the program or why it was put on hold or when it is expected to go live. After initially declining comment altogether, the agency Sunday night issued a statement.

“The FBI is developing a Web site designed to provide awareness about the dangers of violent extremist predators on the Internet, with input from students, educators and community leaders,” the statement read.

The federal government and local law enforcement have struggled to find ways to reach young Americans who may be attracted to violent Islamic extremism before they break the law. 

The Justice Department has recently set up pilot programs in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Boston. However, as the community groups noted, experts disagree on what might be clear triggers for young people, similarly to the cases of dozens of non-Muslims who have perpetrated the U.S. epidemic of mass shootings.

“We were all on the same page in terms of being concerned,” said Hoda Hawa, director of policy and advocacy for the council, called MPAC. “It seems like they’re asking teachers to be extensions of law enforcement and to police thought, and students as well. That was very concerning to us all.”     Read more:

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