Tags: Barack Obama | Emerging Threats | Religion | muslims | extremism | summit | Farhana Khera

Muslims Uneasy With Scrutiny in Obama's Anti-Extremism Summit

Muslims Uneasy With Scrutiny in Obama's Anti-Extremism Summit
(Dennis Brack/Pool/Epa/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 17 February 2015 09:04 AM

This week’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), which will focus on combating radical extremism before it starts, has sparked mistrust among some in the Muslim community, according to The Washington Post.

Some Muslim-American advocates say that enlisting the help of social service groups and religious leaders contributes to the perception that most extremist threats come from their community.

Allowing the government to intrude on Islamic leaders’ relationships with their congregants would not be tolerated by other faiths in the United States, according to Farhana Khera, executive director of the group Muslim Advocates.

"They seem to focus primarily on Muslim communities, which account for only a small fraction of terrorist activities carried out in the United States," Khera told the Post. Other faiths, including Christians and Jews, she said, "would be horrified to learn that their religious leaders were asked by law enforcement to monitor their congregants’ religious views and opinions and report back to them."

President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will speak at the three-day summit, which will address both international and domestic efforts to combat violent extremism, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal also reports that the White House plans to use the summit to draw attention to the battle with Congress over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which runs out Feb. 27 if no deal is reached.

While the White House maintains that the summit will focus on "confronting the issue of extremism as a whole, rather than target one group," Time reports that Muslim leaders are worried that it will contribute to additional "fear and hatred" by Americans toward the Muslim community.

The national advocacy director for the National Network for Arab American Communities told the Post she turned down an invitation to the summit.

Muslim-Americans, said Linda Sarsour, "have a very strange relationship with the federal government, that we engage with them through the lens of national security."

She also is suspect of the government giving money to Muslim community partners in the name of fighting violent extremism.

"Are they being formed in order to gather intelligence and information about community members, or to actually engage in valuable community outreach about civil rights protections?" write Sarsour and Deepa Iyer in an op-ed column published Tuesday in The Guardian.

They note the acts of violence perpetrated by white supremacists on minority religious communities, Muslim and otherwise, such as the recent killings of three college students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; the deadly attack at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee; and another at a Jewish retirement community in Kansas. Such violence likely won't be the summit's focus, they write.

It’s important to root out extremism among Muslims, but equally as important in other communities, they say.

"CVE programs can foster mistrust between government entities and community members. To counter that, the government should engage with Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities to protect their civil rights — especially since hate violence and discrimination against our communities have not abated."

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Muslim-Americans are uneasy with this week's White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, saying its focus is "primarily on Muslim communities, which account for only a small fraction of terrorist activities carried out in the United States."
muslims, extremism, summit, Farhana Khera, supremacists
Tuesday, 17 February 2015 09:04 AM
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