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LAPD investigates Instagram post a civil liberties group called 'anti-Islam'

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating whether an officer shared on Instagram what a prominent Muslim civil liberties group described as an "anti-Islam post," a department official said Friday.

Both the LAPD and the L.A. chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called Friday for an investigation into the post, said that it was not confirmed that the Instagram account belonged to an LAPD officer. But the user identifies himself in comments as a police sergeant and has posted several photos of himself in an LAPD uniform with LAPD patrol cars.

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The Instagram post was published on the account six days ago and included an image that has gone viral in recent days claiming that Japan "keeps Islam at bay by putting restrictions on Islam and ALL Muslims." The image lists a series of restrictions, including one claiming Muslims could not obtain Japanese citizenship or rent houses there.

Several academics have said the image's claims are false.

CAIR, the advocacy group, also blasted the image, saying it contained "inaccurate and false statements."

In addition to sharing the image, the Instagram user posted a comment that began with: "I don't know, maybe something can be learned from this photo?" In a lengthy statement that followed, the user said "not one single Syrian refugee" should be allowed into the U.S. and that U.S. borders should be "REALLY secured."

"There has to be a thorough examination of those [people] who are ALREADY within our borders, and particularly, those [people] of the same ethnic and religious backgrounds that seem to constantly be behind the terrorist attacks occurring globally," the comment read. "If that doesn't sound 'politically correct,' 'eff it. I value safety over political correctness in this instance."

"I'm just a police sergeant," the comment ended, "but it seems like a no brainer to me...?"

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the LAPD had opened an internal affairs investigation to determine whether the person who posted the image was in fact a Los Angeles police officer and, if so, whether the post violated department policy.

Haroon Manjlai, the public affairs coordinator for CAIR-LA, said a member of the Muslim community alerted his organization to the post. He said the group sent LAPD Chief Charlie Beck a letter Thursday expressing concerns and calling for an investigation.

If the person who posted the image is an LAPD officer, Manjlai said, he and others want that officer to be disciplined to show that there is "zero-tolerance" for officers who express bias.

"It is very concerning if this individual has biases against a segment of the community defined by their religion," he said.

Manjlai praised the LAPD for what he described as "great efforts to improve and strengthen its relationship with the American-Muslim community." But the Instagram post, he said, raised concerns that an officer may take "bias-motivated actions" against residents based on their religion.

"These sorts of actions undermine the police's ability to serve," he said, "and undermine their credibility to do the important work that they do."

Follow @katemather for more LAPD news.

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