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US military sacks instructor over anti-Islamic class

June 21, 2012


Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen Martin E Dempsey listens during a news conference at the Pentagon in this file Photo.     — File Photo by AP

WASHINGTON: The US military said Wednesday “poor judgement” allowed an instructor to present inflammatory anti-Islamic material in a course for senior officers.

The instructor has been removed from his teaching job at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, and the elective course will be redesigned, officials said, citing the results of a review ordered by the US military’s top officer, General Martin Dempsey.

The course, entitled “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism,” had “portrayed Islam almost entirely in a negative way,” said Dempsey's spokesman, Colonel Dave Lapan.

The class, which had been taught since 2004, was meant “to stimulate discussion and challenge people’s beliefs,” Lapan told reporters. “The flaw was that it didn’t clearly define that it was meant to be provocative.”

The review found a trail of “bad decisions” and “poor judgement,” including a failure to seek out how students in the class viewed the material, Lapan said.

The instructor employed power point slides that asserted Islam was “at war”with the United States, officials said in April.

The class failed to reflect US government policy on countering extremism and Islam was portrayed in a distorted way, Lapan said.

The inquiry ordered by Dempsey looked at other military education across the armed forces but only found problems, including lax oversight, in the case of the course at the Joint Forces Staff College, he said.

Revelations about the class, which came to light after a student complained, emerged at a sensitive moment as the American military tries to repair the damage done by the burning of Qurans at a US base in Afghanistan in February.

The incident triggered outrage in the Islamic world and a spate of deadly riots in Afghanistan, where US commanders apologized and insisted the Qurans were torched by accident.

US officials on Tuesday confirmed that an investigation into the Quran burning has recommended disciplinary action against up to six Army troops and one Navy service member.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the United States is at war with “terrorists” and insurgents and “not with any particular religion.”