Trump Plan To Exclude Non-Muslims From Countering Violent Extremism Program Draws Ire

At least three non-profit organisations have turned down CVE grants from Department of Homeland Security since Trump took office.
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    A dozen Democratic US senators on Thursday denounced a Trump administration plan to revamp a government anti-extremism program, saying narrowing its focus solely to Islamic threats could jeopardize security and may be illegal.

    Restructuring the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program to omit white supremacists and other non-Islamist groups “would severely damage our credibility with foreign allies and partners as an honest broker in the fight against violent extremism, and prove divisive in communities across our country,” senators Cory Booker, Brian Schatz and 10 others wrote in a letter addressed to cabinet secretaries.

    Dylann Roof, responsible for a politically motivated killing rampage in a black church is rarely defined as a terrorist by most media.

    Dylann Roof, responsible for a politically motivated killing rampage in a black church is rarely defined as a terrorist by most media.

    The current administration is planning to make Muslims the exclusive target of CVE, Reuters reported last week, citing five people briefed on the situation. It will be renamed “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” according to the news agency.

    The potential name change reflects a broader goal of Trump’s – to exclude groups in the program’s purview such as white supremacists, whose followers have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

    Arab and Muslim organisations have had mixed perceptions of CVE since its inception in 2011, with many calling it discriminatory. But revamping the initiative to make it conspicuously target Islam is already earning condemnation from the Muslim community.

    Despite skepticism from Muslim activists who opposed CVE, the program claimed to push back against all sorts of extremism. For example, Life After Hate, an organisation that rehabilitates white supremacists, was awarded a $400,000 CVE grant – announced in December before Trump’s inauguration.

    Robert Dear is suspected in the Planned Parenthood shooting.

    Robert Dear, responsible for the November, 2015 mass shooting in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

    CVE aimed to address the causes of why some people are drawn to violence or extremism by providing grants and other resources to community groups to develop prevention efforts, including using social media.

    Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials who work on CVE met on Tuesday to continue discussions about the proposed changes, according to two sources who have worked closely with DHS on the program.

    Refocusing CVE efforts largely on Islam would “alienate Muslim organisations and individuals in the United States,” the senators wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defence James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Wade Warren, acting administrator for the US Agency for International Development.

    At least three non-profit organisations have turned down CVE grants from DHS since Trump took office.

    Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities (LAHC), a human services group in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, and Ka Joog, a Somali community organisation in Minneapolis, each rejected a $500,000 CVE grant after being approved for it.

    An American protester in Washington, D.C. holding a sign saying he's Islamophobic.

    An American protester in Washington, D.C. holding a sign saying he’s Islamophobic. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

    “I know it’s a lot of money, but it all comes down to principle. They are promoting a cancerous ideology that is promoting divisions and we don’t want to be a part of that,” Ka Joog’s executive director, Mohamed Farah, told CBS Minnesota.

    Unity Productions Foundation, a non-profit based in Potomac Falls, Virginia, said it will find other ways to fund its project to produce videos that amplify the voices of Muslim scholars who reject militancy, after turning down a $396,000 CVE grant.

    The senators warned in their letter that changes to CVE may increase the likelihood of militant attacks and “violate constitutional protections and the rights of American citizens”.

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment on the reported changes last week, but said during a briefing that the program was initially intended to focus on “rooting out radical Islamic terrorism”.

    © Middle East Eye
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    • Clifford Ishii

      Americans should have and carry a Jo staff to defend against violent Muslims if gun is not available

    • TeeJae

      What about White Supremacist terrorism? Now that it’s on the rise since Trump’s campaigning, they’ll have to create ANOTHER program to root it out. Yeah, that’ll cost less tax dollars, I’m sure.

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    • James Wherry

      So who would the President include? He’s not seeking to add Jihadists to the group, so I assume an outreach to white supremacists to “improve relations” with them is out?

      Would the President include Christian leaders? Why? Christianity does not have a jihadist or violent crusader problem. Acts of violence by violent pro-lifers are universally condemned and prosecuted.

      There are no “radical Christian churches” preaching crusade. Our definition of “martyr” does not include those killed while murdering others.

      The author is seeking moral equivalency where there is none.

      • TeeJae

        “Acts of violence by violent pro-lifers are universally condemned and prosecuted.” Untrue. But for the sake of argument, the same could be said about “Islamic” terrorism. The point is to root it out and prevent it BEFOREHAND. Sadly, our government doesn’t really care how many people die in bombings of family planning clinics at the hands of the Robert Dears of the world, let alone how many blacks and LGBTs die at the hands of Neo-nazis. It’s clear prejudice and discrimination.