Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadets used props portraying stereotypically-dressed Muslim men in a February 20 exercise held just two blocks from a mosque used by students at TulaneUniversity in New Orleans, Louisiana.
One cut-out prop depicted a man crouched behind a sheep, while the other represented a man standing behind an oil barrel.
The practice highlights a disturbing Islamophobic trend demonizing Islam and equating Muslims with 'the enemy.' The depiction of a Muslim man in traditional Arab clothing hiding behind a sheep and an oil barrel is a stereotype that portrays all Arabs as being enemies of thestate.
"The use of stereotypical images of Muslims and Arabs by those training to be military officers sends the false and disturbing message that our nation is at war with Islam," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hooper said other recent incidents indicating a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments include vandalism at a Tennessee mosque, an anti-Islam e-mail circulated by sheriff's department personnel in Florida, an Islamophobic panel discussion at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C., and the firing of a Muslim employee in California who refused a supervisor's demand to remove her Islamic head scarf, or hijab.
He noted that a recent survey showed that more than 4 in 10 Americans admit to anti-Muslim prejudice. According to a January 2010 Gallup Center for Muslim Studies report, more than 4 in 10 Americans (43%) admit to feeling at least "a little" prejudice toward Muslims -- more than twice the number who say the same about Christians (18%), Jews (15%) and Buddhists (14%).
The Tulane Hullabaloo community newspaper reported the incident under the title: "AROTC uses cutouts of Muslims as targets." The paper pointed out that the use of props during AROTC lab exercises at other programs varies by university. Representatives of ArizonaStateUniversity, University of California Santa Barbara and San DiegoStateUniversity all said they do not use props representing people during their laboratoryexercises.