A trio of House Democrats say President Trump is making a mistake pushing for counter-extremism efforts to focus only on radical Islam.
The Trump administration is reportedly pushing to reshape a government program aimed at combating extremist ideologies to focus solely on the Islamic variety.
“Such a move is wrongheaded insofar as persons who commit acts of violent extremism are inspired by diverse political, religious and philosophical beliefs, and are not limited to any single population or region,” the three lawmakers wrote in a Friday letter to Acting Attorney General Dana Boente.
“Changing the name to ‘Countering Islamic Extremism’ or ‘Countering Radical Islamic Extremism’ would have damaging effects to our national security by feeding into the propaganda created by terrorist groups and child domestic and international diplomatic relations,” they added.
“Additionally, it could further alienate and create distrust with the Muslim-American communities when the program depends on close cooperation with law enforcement.”
Friday’s letter was signed Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson (Md.), Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and John Conyers (Mich.).
Thompson is the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, while Conyers has the same status on the House Judiciary Committee. Engel is the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Friday’s communication is addressed to the acting Justice Department leader, but also includes Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The “Countering Violent Extremism” program is intended to counter all types of violent ideologies, including white supremacy.
The Trump administration’s proposed changes would rename the effort the “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism” initiative instead.
The program currently uses social media campaigns and community partnerships in an attempt to prevent extremism in U.S. communities.
Trump has repeatedly promised to crack down on radical Islamic terrorism, a threat he often accused former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Chelsea Manning tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Obama backs Trudeau in Canadian election MORE of confronting weakly.