FBI's Don't Be a Puppet game targets Muslim youth, teachers' union says
Counter-terrorism program meant to dissuade teens from being radicalized leads to racial profiling and bullying, American Federation of Teachers argued
The main screen of the FBI’s Don’t Be a Puppet online game on extremism, which was launched in February. Photograph: FBI
A controversial FBI program targeting Muslim teenagers has drawn criticism from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), claiming it leads to bullying and profiling.
The union, which represents 1.6 million teachers in the US, sent an open letter to FBI director James Comey earlier this month to call for an end to the agency’s Don’t Be a Puppet program which aims to prevent youth from being radicalized.
“What we saw with the Don’t be a Puppet program, was that it created this broad based suspicion of people based upon their heritage or ethnicity,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said.
Don’t Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism is an online game the FBI launched in February. It is set in a dingy basement where students compete a series of tasks to liberate a puppet on strings.
“Increasing ideological policing and surveillance efforts like the Don’t be a Puppet campaign will have a chilling effect on our schools and immigrant communities,” the letter said.
Nineteen civil rights and community groups signed the letter including the National Immigration Law Center and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Several Muslim community leaders previewed the game last year and were instantly incensed.
“It was pretty bad,” said Abed Ayoub, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee who was at the initial preview. “We felt that it really did target the Arab and Muslim community, and there was no room for it inside a classroom.”
ADC and other groups have actively spoken out against the game, which they say leads to bullying and profiling of Muslim students.
Following the meeting, the game’s release was pushed back but it was eventually rolled out in February, with some minor modifications.
It was met with ridicule and widely panned by gaming publications. In one game, users navigate a goat around virtual obstacles, and are rewarded with a sample text of the “distorted logic” foreign terrorists use to lure youth.
It remains unclear how many – if any – schools have adopted the program for use FBI's Don't Be a Puppet game targets Muslim youth, teachers' union says | US news | The Guardian: