(ATLANTA, GA - 3/8/2018) -- The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) today announced that it plans to pursue legal action against the Barrow County Sheriff's Office after it instituted discriminatory limits on who could attend an anti-Muslim training course taught by David Bores.
"Despite clear evidence that David Bores is an anti-Muslim extremist, the Sheriff allowed Mr. Bores to spread hate using taxpayer dollars," said Murtaza Khwaja staff attorney for CAIR Georgia. "To make matters worse, the Sheriff banned almost all Muslim residents of Barrow County from attending the event, while simultaneously encouraging Christian residents to attend."
According to Sheriff Jud Smith, any "leaders of houses of worship" within Barrow County were welcome to attend the "Islam in America" course alongside law enforcement officers. Although Georgia Muslims live in Barrow County, there is no mosque.
As a result, Sheriff Smith knowingly used this "backdoor Muslim ban" to prevent Muslim residents of Barrow County from attending the class alongside their Christian neighbors.
Furthermore, emails obtained through an open records request by the ACLU of Georgia also reveal that the Sheriff's office actively encouraged members of Christian churches both inside and outside of Barrow County to attend the 'Islam in America' course.
In a statement, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:
"Once Sheriff Jud Smith invited private citizens to attend this anti-Muslim training alongside law enforcement, he had to treat those private citizens equally, regardless of whether they believed in a faith, and regardless of whether they belonged to a house of worship.
"Multiple civil rights organizations warned Sheriff Smith that it was illegal to invite Christian private citizens in Barrow County to attend the event, while at the same time denying Muslim private citizens the right to attend. A backdoor Muslim Ban is just as unconstitutional as a blatant Muslim Ban.
"The Sheriff also illegally discriminated against secular residents of Barrow County who do not belong to any house of worship. The government cannot favor the faith community over the secular community in this way. "What's done is done, but we must now ensure that this discriminatory behavior never happens again in Barrow County, or anywhere else in the State of Georgia."
On Monday, March 5, CAIR-Georgia, the ACLU of Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Project South, Veterans for Peace, and Jewish for Peace called for the Sheriff to cancel the course because of Bores' lack of expertise, as well as his history of false and defamatory remarks about various communities, including Muslims and Jews. SEE: Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorist To Train Georgia Law Enforcement Officers On Islam
The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police subsequently announced that it had suspended approval for the Bores' anti-Muslim courses, but Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith decided to proceed with the course.
Emails obtained through an open records request by the ACLU of Georgia reveal that the Sheriff's office actively encouraged members of Christian churches both inside and outside of Barrow County to attend the event, while denying Muslim private citizens inside and outside the county their requests to attend.
In an email sent on Feb. 8, 2018, Sergeant David Aderhold, training director for the Sheriff's office, wrote to David Bores, "Also I mentioned to the Sheriff about inviting church staff in Barrow churches. He's all for it. We'll have a large crowd from officers to church staff." SEE ALSO: ACLU Demand Letter to Sheriff Jud Smith
"Any way you cut it, the sheriff's exclusionary policy appears to be a backdoor ban on people of the Muslim faith," stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia, in a statement on March 7th. "Blatant discrimination on the basis of religion violates the Constitution and offends who we are as Americans.” Earlier in the week, numerous media outlets reported that Sheriff Smith was inviting the ACLU of Georgia, CAIR-Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and members of the public to attend the event. Neither CAIR-Georgia nor the ACLU of Georgia ever directly received such an invitation.
In fact, emails show that when CAIR-Georgia attempted to register its director and other Muslims to attend the event, the Sheriff turned down the requests, denied that he had ever invited the civil rights groups or the general public to attend, and accused the media of misreporting his words.
SEE: 11Alive News - Barrow Sheriff Responds to Islam in America Training (“Sheriff Smith has opened the training to the public on Thursday, March 8 and said he invited the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and CAIR to attend”).
SEE ALSO: Emails with Sheriff Jud Smith In an email Sheriff Smith sent to CAIR-Georgia on March 6th, he wrote, "As you may have been before the media misreported what I said about inviting the Public. The class is open to Law Enforcement and leader of places of worship in Barrow County. That is who the class is open too contrary to what media outlets had put out there."
(NOTE: This is the exact wording of the Sheriff's email; spelling and grammatical errors left untouched).
Smith also refused entry to other Georgia Muslims outside of Barrow County, saying that only Muslims who happen to be law enforcement officers could attend the course.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.