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Fourth Muslim group rejects federal grant to fight extremism

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Bayan Claremont’s founding president Jihad Turk speaking to their graduation banquet in Claremont, Calif. Bayan Claremont is rejecting $800,000 in federal funds aimed at combating violent extremism less than a month into Donald Trump’s presidency.

WASHINGTON >> A California Islamic school wanted to keep an open mind before Donald Trump took office. But less than a month into Trump’s presidency, the school rejected $800,000 in federal funds aimed at combatting violent extremism.

The decision made late Friday night by the Bayan Claremont graduate school’s board to turn down the money — an amount that would cover more than half its yearly budget — capped weeks of sleepless nights and debate. Many there felt Trump’s rhetoric singling out Islamic extremism and his travel ban affecting predominantly Muslim countries had gone too far.

It also made the school the fourth organization nationwide under the Trump administration to reject the money for a program created under President Barack Obama known as countering violent extremism, or CVE, which officials say aims to thwart extremist groups’ abilities to recruit would-be terrorists.

Bayan Claremont had received the second-largest grant, among the first 31 federal grants for CVE awarded to organizations, schools and municipalities in the dwindling days of the Obama administration. The school had hoped to use the money to help create a new generation of Muslim community leaders, with $250,000 earmarked for more than a dozen local nonprofits doing social justice work.

But the fledgling school’s founding president, Jihad Turk, said officials ultimately felt accepting the money would do more harm than good.

It’s “a heck of a lot of money, (but) our mission and our vision is to serve the community and to bring our community to a position of excellence,” Turk said. “And if we’re compromised, even if only by perception in terms of our standing in the community, we ultimately can’t achieve that goal,” he said, adding that accepting the funds would be short-sighted.

The school’s internal debate is also emblematic of handwringing among grassroots and nonprofit organizations involved in the program in the last couple weeks.

At Unity Productions Foundation of Potomac Falls, Virginia, officials said they would decline a grant of $396,585 to produce educational films challenging narratives supporting extremist ideologies and violent extremism “due to the changes brought by the new administration,” according to a private message to donors reviewed by The Associated Press.

And in Dearborn, Michigan, Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities said last week it was turning down $500,000 for youth-development and public-health programs because of the “current political climate.” Ka Joog, a leading Somali nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, also turned down $500,000 for its youth programs.

The Homeland Security Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

A U.S. official said the Trump administration has been discussing changing the Obama administration program’s name, established as a presidential strategy in 2011, to an iteration of “countering Islamic extremism.” The official, who has knowledge of the discussions, was not authorized to speak publicly about the proposal and spoke on condition of anonymity.

All told, more than 20 percent of the roughly $10 million awarded by the Homeland Security Department has been rejected. And other groups have signaled they may follow suit, should the name change.

Turk said school officials already had reservations about the CVE strategy under Obama because they felt there’s no clear or proven pathway to violence for someone with a particular extreme ideology. The group went ahead, despite worries by some activists that the program equated to a government surveillance program, because it believed the previous administration wasn’t hostile to their faith.

But amid what Turk called Trump’s “fixation on the American Muslim community,” it became clear that the president’s actions were more than campaign-trail rhetoric, he said.

“It was becoming more and more apparent,” Turk said of Trump, “that he’s actually looking to carry out all the scary stuff he said.”

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  • ““It was becoming more and more apparent,” Turk said of Trump, “that he’s actually looking to carry out all the scary stuff he said.”>>> And our confidence in him to follow through, is what got him elected.

  • Ignoring (or concealing) the fact that right-wing terrorists have killed far more Americans since 9/11, Trump intends to change the name of the Countering Violent Extremism program, or CVE, to Countering Islamic Terrorism.

    • Why do you leave 9/11 out of the count?

      I think it is a little bit like saying there are way more sunny days, when you don’t count the rainy ones.

      It is easy to classify someone who is shouting Allahu Akbar as an Islamic terrorist.

      The phrase “right wing terrorist’ may be harder to define.
      Some may think that it is something you have made up in order to associate violent acts with completely unrelated positions with which you disagree.

      • What is a right-wing terrorist? See: https://www.splcenter.org/20100126/terror-right

        NY Times:
        “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.

        “Other data sets, using different definitions of political violence, tell comparable stories. The Global Terrorism Database maintained by the Start Center at the University of Maryland includes 65 attacks in the United States associated with right-wing ideologies and 24 by Muslim extremists since 9/11. The International Security Program at the New America Foundation identifies 39 fatalities from “non-jihadist” homegrown extremists and 26 fatalities from “jihadist” extremists.”

        Time magazine:
        “Since 9/11, white right-wing terrorists have killed almost twice as many Americans in homegrown attacks than radical Islamists have, according to research by the New America Foundation.

        “In their June study, the foundation decided to examine groups “engaged in violent extremist activity” and found that white extremists were by far the most dangerous. They pointed to the recent Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, S.C., and the 2012 attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, as well as many lesser-known attacks on Jewish institutions and on police. They found that 48 people were killed by white terrorists, while 26 were killed by radical Islamists, since Sept. 11.”

        • You cite NY Times, Time magazine, and SLPLC?

          Good grief! I’m sure Wooppie cushion Goldberg agrees with you too.

        • Thanks for the ref

          I still think this right-wing terrorist category is a fabrication

          There are people in the list you link to who are anti-Semites, anti-current government, someone who was out to get Darryl Issa – a prominent Repub congressman, and even someone whose beef was the expropriation of a bit of his land to widen the roadway

          The category business has us arguing in vague generalities that seems to never get anywhere

          For example let’s fight antisemitism regardless of what wing some one classifies it as

      • The bombing by a right-wing terrorist of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people, isn’t included either.

        • There is no such thing as a right wing terrorist
          it is fabricated vague generality
          From what I recall this guy had a beef with the Feds, period

  • They want the money , but know that the new administration will hold them accountable in how they use it. Thought that under Obama and Hillary they could get away using it for Jihad instead of peace teachings.

  • A new poll by Public Policy Polling shows that 51% of Trump voters believe that the Bowling Green Massacre was a real event, not just another Kellyanne Conway lie.

    • Well, there was reality to it, she just got her terrorists mixed up.

      The planned massacre was thwarted by the feds.

      From what I read the planned victims were Jews and African Americans.

      • Correction: I did a little more reading, and there actually was a case that closely matched Kellyanne’s reference.
        It was not the case that I referred to above that she was apparently talking about.

        “the closest circumstance to what she described occurred in Bowling Green, Ky., in late May 2011.

        Two Iraqi citizens, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan, were indicted on federal terrorism charges. According to a Justice Department news release from January 2013, the two men had attempted to send weapons and money to Al Qaeda in Iraq with the aim of killing American soldiers there.”

        Source NYT

        • The incident you cite “closely matches” a “Bowling Green Massacre” about as much a Trump closely matches an orangutan.

        • I guess she should have said the planned bowling green massacre

          The point however was correct. It was an example of a terrorist related crime by someone from one of these 7 countries.

  • They do not want to admit that there is no real separation between the Islamic fundamentalist who are waging a jihad against all non believers and
    what they themselves believe. To do so would in effect disavow Islam and Mohammed’s teachings. What Islam teaches is totally anathema to
    Christian ethics, values and beliefs which is why this clash of ideology will continue until there is only one.
    The Sunni moslems who comprise the majority of those engaged in jihad believe in what Mohammed preached and how he practiced Islam.
    This is why you have not found very many muslims voicing opposition to the cruel and barbarous acts by ISIS and the other Islamic fundamental groups
    waging their world wide jihad.

  • Great !! keep the money and use it to improve and stiffen immigration policies and to help to build the border wall. The money not given to these groups should be used
    to pay American workers to build the wall. Giving money to Muslim groups to educate and pacify them was the Obama way which failed. These people should be pacified
    and educated before they come to America.

  • Shame on them for refusing to combat violent extremism. This just proves the point of the Trump supporters that Muslims are turning a blind eye to the radicals within their group of followers.

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