By Tim Potter, The Wichita Eagle
The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office said Friday that it has decided not to partner with a citizens group sponsoring an anti-terrorism training session planned for next week, saying it has become too controversial.
The Sheriff's Office said in a news release issued at 5 p.m. that it had heard from both supporters and opponents of former FBI agent John Guandolo and that the controversy had overshadowed the intent of the training.
Critics of Guandolo's training say it gives a distorted and biased view of Islam that casts all Muslims as suspects.
Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said the office's withdrawal of sponsorship is "really good news. The problem is him training law enforcement officers."
Moussa Elbayoumy, Lawrence-based chairman of CAIR Kansas, said the group doesn't want any law enforcement officer "to be subjected to that kind of rhetoric and misinformation."
Earlier Friday afternoon, Elbayoumy and a local Muslim leader said they had been trying to meet with Easter about their concerns over the training.
On Wednesday, the national Muslim group asked the Sheriff's Office to cancel the training program by Guandolo because the group views him as having a view that puts all Muslims under suspicion of being connected to terrorism. The Sheriff's Office had said it was hosting Guandolo.
Also on Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office said it was not canceling the program and that it viewed Guandolo's training as a way to help officers distinguish between extremists and non-extremists.
The Muslim leaders compared hosting Guandolo to sponsoring a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Hussam Madi, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita, which he said is probably the largest Muslim organization in the city, said he wants law enforcement to learn about different cultures and investigative strategies "but not from someone who ... brings hateful views" and treats Muslims as "guilty till proven innocent." (Read the full article)