U.S.-based Islamist groups are pushing for rules that would shield Muslim political leaders and clerics from being charged with supporting jihad terrorism.
The demands are being pushed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, just before Obama is slated to headline three days of White House meetings this week on federal efforts to mitigate the jihadi violence that is emerging from the growing population of Muslim immigrants.
Justice Department “policies should make clear that those who intervene to [stop attacks] should not suffer for it by being subjected to prosecution, watchlisting, or surveillance because of their association with a potential violent extremist,” said a CAIR statement.
“The Department of Justice should issue guidelines … to protect those who act in good faith to prevent violent extremism by engaging with [Muslims] considering it in order to dissuade them,” CAIR demanded.
CAIR will repeat its demand for more autonomy in a Tuesday press conference in Minneapolis, Minn., with a group of self-described leaders of the immigrant Somali population.
“We welcome any tangible effort to educate and empower youth to make the right decisions and promote safety, but it needs to be a community-based, grassroots effort free of intelligence gathering disguised as community outreach,” an CAIR official, Jaylani Hussein, said in a Jan. 23 press statement announcing the Feb. 17 event.
At least 20 Somali Muslims have left the United States to fight for a Somali jihad group. Several others have left to join the Islamic State group, partly because of support from at least one U.S.-based Muslim cleric.
CAIR’s demand for Islamic autonomy and status is echoed by other Islamist and progressive advocates, including the ACLU and Farhana Khera, a Muslim lawyer who helped organize a Feb. 4 meeting of Muslim advocates with Obama in the White House.
Khera has campaigned against the post-9/11 police oversight of Islamic communities, and against widespread public criticism of Islamic ideas, such as jihad, shariah, the caliphate, and the relegation of non-Muslims to apartheid-like “dhimmi” status in Muslim theocracies.
In 2010, she complained about the arrest and deportation of a Muslim cleric who had tipped off a U.S-based jihadi about police surveillance, following a meeting with FBI officials.
Islamic and progressive advocates routinely label public criticism of Islamic culture as a medical illness, which they dub “Islamophobia.”
CAIR’s demand for more autonomy may be granted.
Since 2009, Obama has strenuously defended Islam from criticism, has indulged many of the demands for segregation, and justified the concessions as vital to persuade immigrant Muslims against implementing the Koran’s repeated calls for warfare against non-Muslims.
That jihad problem has grown in step with the growing population of Muslims living in the United States.
The immigrant Muslim population has grown by roughly one million since 2000, up to almost 2.7 million in 2013. The population has grown because the federal government has accepted many migrants from Muslim-dominated chaotic countries, such as Somalia and Syria.
To mitigate the expected violence from Muslim immigrants, such as the two Chechen men who bombed the Boston marathon in April 2013, Obama has established the “Countering Violent Extremism” program.
Under the program, federal district attorneys work with Muslims who claim to be the religious and civic leaders of Muslim migrants.
That’s very different from normal government practice, in which elected politicians represent Americans and immigrants, and the DAs only get involved when major federal crimes are committed.
White House officials discussed Obama’s CVE policy in a Monday conference call with reporters.
“Our approach empowers communities to push back against violent extremists,” said a White House official who declined to be named.
“It puts communities with civic leaders, with religious authorities, with community power brokers, teachers, health providers, et cetera, in the driver’s seat,” the official said.
“They know their citizens best. They are the first line of defense to prevent or counter radicalizing forces that can ultimately lead to violence. … We’ve been working with our federal partners and our local partners to put in place this approach over the past couple of years,” the official said.
Even as officials say they’re working with Islamic clerics to stop jihad attacks, the officials also say that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam.
“We are very, very clear that we do not believe that [the attackers] are representing Islam,” the White House official told the reporters.
To make that claim, Obama and his deputies have decided they know better than Muslims whether a particular act is Islamic or not.
“There is absolutely no justification for these attacks in any religion. … You can call them what you want [but] we’re calling them terrorists,” the official said.
“So we are not treating these people as part of a religion,” the official insisted.
That’s the same practice adopted by Obama, even in the cases where jihadis videotape themselves touting Islamic ideas while murdering Christians.
The CAIR group, which emerged from a network of violent or political Islamic groups linked to the revivalist Muslim Brotherhood movement, also demanded Obama abandon a series of anti-jihadi measures that have detected many Muslim murder plots.
“To be effective, any conversation related to CVE should include a discussion of over-broad surveillance by the NSA and FBI, [the] use of informants in places of worship and other community gathering places without evidence of wrongdoing, and other problematic law enforcement tactics,” said CAIR.
“The U.S. government should avoid practices that stigmatize American Muslims and Islam [and] U.S. government entities should discuss violent extremist threats in proportionate, nonexistential term,” CAIR demanded.
“The U.S. Congress should hold hearings … to investigate the federal government’s overbroad surveillance of mosques and American Muslims, absent evidence of criminal activity,” CAIR demanded.
The U.S. must also change its foreign policy to reduce Muslim attacks, CAIR said. “This discussion must also include America’s foreign policy. … Government actions at times help create an environment for violent extremists to exploit,” CAIR said.
In December, CAIR allied with a series of progressive and Islamist groups to demand a rollback of the U.S. surveillance programs.
“A government program cannot, directly or indirectly, choose which views within Islam or particular imams and community leaders are worthy of support and which are not,” said the Islamic and progressive letter.
“We caution that in choosing partners, CVE programs could have the constitutionally impermissible effect of advancing a particular set of religious beliefs and suppressing others,” the letter added.