Instructor suspended over Islam course

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REUTERS

File picture: Gravestones are seen damaged by an Islamist group in protest at the burning of the Koran by US soldiers in Afghanistan, in Benghazi Military Cemetery. The instructor of a college course that taught top U.S. military officers the United States was at war with Islam has been relieved of teaching duties. Photo: REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

Washington - The instructor of a college course that taught top U.S. military officers the United States was at war with Islam has been relieved of teaching duties and the course ordered redesigned to reflect U.S. policy, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.

The elective course at the National Defense University's Joint Forces Staff College included a slide that asserted “the United States is at war with Islam and we ought to just recognize that we are war with Islam,” Pentagon officials said in April as they launched a review of the course.

Colonel David Lapan, a spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Wednesday a review of the course found that “institutional failures and in oversight and judgment” led to the course being modified over time in a way “that portrayed Islam almost entirely in a negative way.”

“The inquiry recommends the course be redesigned to include aspects of U.S. policy and reduce its reliance on external instruction,” Lapan said in a statement. It also recommended improving oversight of course curricula.

“The elective course's military instructor has been relieved of his instructor duties until his permanent change of station, which was previously planned for 2012,” Lapan said.

The inquiry also recommended a review of actions by two civilian employees of the staff college to see if disciplinary action was warranted. A second military officer will receive administrative counseling, Lapan said.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, ordered the review of the course on Islam and military education in general after a soldier complained about the content of the course entitled “Perspectives on Islam and Islamite Radicalism” at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.

Navy Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said in April that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was deeply concerned about some of the materials being taught in the course, such as the slide suggesting the United States was at war with Islam.

“That's not at all what we believe to be the case. We're at war against terrorism, specifically al Qaeda, who has a warped view of the Islamic faith,” Kirby said.

Discovery of the course material embarrassed the military at a time when U.S. officials were trying to mend U.S. ties with the Muslim world following a spate of incidents in Afghanistan, including the burning of copies of the Koran and pictures showing U.S. soldiers posing with corpses of Afghans.- Reuters


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