The Navy has stopped using targets featuring Muslim women in hijabs at the new SEAL training range in Fort Story, reports The Virginian-Pilot.
According to The Blaze, the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) National Director Nihad Awad wrote a letter to Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense stating concerns against using such training methods.
"Using a Muslim woman wearing a religious head scarf with [verses from the] Quran behind her as a target for our nation’s military personnel is offensive and sends a negative and counterproductive message to trainees and to the Muslim-majority nations to which they may be deployed. This is yet another example of why the Department of Defense needs to fix what appears to be an ongoing problem by consulting credible scholars and experts to review all training and training materials related to Islam or Muslims."
Though Panetta's office declined comment, according to the Virginian-Pilot, Lt. David Lloyd, a spokesman for Naval Special Warfare Group 2, confirmed the targets would not be used.
"We have removed this particular target and Arabic writing in question from the range in the near term, and will explore other options for future training."
Yet, many are concerned that the issue of bias in military training goes further than this isolated scenario. "This is a welcome first step, but a serious and comprehensive review is needed to deal with the issue of Islamophobia in military training,"Awad said in a CAIR press release after the Navy announcement.
However, according to an earlier article by The Virginian-Pilot, the training site includes everyday, real life situations taken from actual raids where SEALs had to quickly decipher between real threats and innocent civilians.
The new Navy facility is a 26,500-square-foot building with 52 interconnected spaces costing 11.5 million dollars and display markets, schools, bathrooms, bus stations and other common scenes from combat zones.