The St. Cloud State University Chronicle reported yesterday that the Minnesota chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) would like to see St. Cloud’s mayor and its school leadership do more for the Muslim residents in the area.
Specifically, the group has offered to partner with the school district to host cultural-sensitivity training. Jaylani Hussein, the Executive Director for CAIR in Minnesota met individually with St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis and St. Cloud Schools Superintendent Willie Jett in late September and told the St. Cloud Times that he wants to see Kleis work within the community to “promote positive relationships with minorities and people of Islamic faith” and said that CAIR “need(s) to see some sort of improvements” from the city. Hussein has met with Superintendent Jett multiple times and offered to “partner with the school district in the future to provide training opportunities.”
CAIR has reported the St. Cloud school district to the federal government twice since 2010, resulting in Department of Education officials crafting an agreement to resolve alleged harassment of Somali students.
CAIR has been working in conjunction with student groups since last spring when it organized a meeting with federal officials after the walkout of 100 Somali students from St. Cloud Tech High School. CAIR did not inform school district officials about the meeting according to MPR News.
At a St. Cloud school board meeting on August 12th, student organizers and district equity staff presented the board with a document that included a request that district staff members get cultural awareness training as well as school-wide training in restorative justice according to the St. Cloud Times.
CAIR offers training services for Minnesota companies and organizes a training for Minnesota law enforcement on the core concepts of Islam and overcoming “unconscious bias.” The course gives police officers continuing education credits at $75 per attendee.
CAIR’s “Challenging Islamophobia” training promises to combat negative stereotypes such as:
- Muslim cultures and Islam are seen as monolithic and unchanging.
- Muslim cultures are viewed as wholly different from other cultures.
- Islam is perceived as inherently threatening.
- Muslims are seen as using their faith mainly for political or military advantage.
- Muslim criticisms of Western societies are rejected out of hand.
- Fear of Islam is mixed with racist hostility to immigration.
- Islamophobia is assumed to be natural and unproblematic.
But who will profit?
CAIR Minnesota’s director has his own consulting company which also provides cultural-sensitivity training according to the St. Cloud Times. Zeila Consultants, was founded by Hussein in 2013,” to develop and offer cross-cultural training workshops on East African cultures, which he hopes to bring to St. Cloud.” Zeila is listed as an active company in good standing with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.
Alpha News will continue to monitor developments in the city of St. Cloud and St. Cloud school district as it relates to CAIR-organized training.