New Jersey state troopers are now required to undergo a one-hour Muslim sensitivity training course, following news last year that New York City detectives were spying on New Jersey Muslims.
New state police recruits attended the class through Oct. 11 at the state criminal justice academy in Sea Girt, and other recruits and veteran troopers will get the training by video as part of regular in-service training, NorthJersey.com reported.
The class is meant to help police understand basic Islamic concepts, like customs and wardrobe, said Paul Loriquet, director of communications in the Attorney General’s Office. State police and the Muslim Outreach Committee, who founded the course, will determine if further training is needed, the website reported.
The program is aimed at building trust, said Imam Mustafa El-Amin, who heads the Masjid Ibrahim mosque in Newark.
“When we first started, there was anger and hostility,” he said. “Now it has actually developed to achievements and goals as opposed to just talking and airing out who’s guilty and who’s not.”
Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said the training is supposed to help “bridge the divide,” NorthJersey.com reported.
“We don’t agree all the time on every issue, but we do agree we’ll talk about them, and that has gotten us miles ahead in the process,” he said.
Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge told the website that the lecture isn’t going to change everyone’s view, “but at least it’s a beginning.”
“Those who are least familiar are most appreciative,” he said. “Things that may be different to them, they can now associate as being normal to another culture and not as raising an alarm.”
“It’s meant to be an overview,” Chaudry added. “It’s also an opportunity to destroy some of those misconceptions [about Islam].”