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                                                                                        FEBRUARY 21, 2015

Muslim Student Associations Across CA Against Federal Government’s Countering Violent Extremism Programs

We, the undersigned Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) and MSA West express grave concerns with the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) framework. We oppose the creation of pilot programs that are planned to be launched in various cities across the nation, including Los Angeles, Boston and Minneapolis, and do not support the organizations that are aligning with CVE’s programs.

As MSA leaders, we are concerned about the reinforcement that CVE provides to the stereotypes that Muslims are security threats, as well as the climate of fear the surveillance program will create, especially amongst Muslim youth. CVE solely targets and stigmatizes the Muslim community; with the entire focus of Countering Violent Extremism programs being on the Muslim community, the federal government is conflating extremist violence with Islam and feeding into the prejudiced and false portrayal that the majority of violent threats are coming from the American Muslim community, when in reality, most incidents of violent extremism in the United States are from non-Muslim sources.According to Pew’s population estimate of 2.6 million Muslims living in the United States in 2010, and further data on the number of individuals that have been arrested for potential acts of terrorism linked to Al-Qaeda, these individuals only represent 0.0002% of the Muslim population in the United States. By creating programs and initiatives that are targeting the average Muslim in America based on the 0.0002% of the radicalized population is creating an unjust and false assumption that this radicalization is widespread within the community and should be countered on a national level.

Furthermore, the CVE framework is rooted in the flawed “radicalization theory” which claims that there is a fixed trajectory to radicalization with indicators that, if detected early on, can be interrupted through intervention. Examples of  indicators used in this theory as signs of radicalization include growing beards, increasing involvement in social activism and community issues, and “wearing traditional Islamic clothing.” These so-called signs of radicalization discourage Muslims from practicing their faith, creates a sense of paranoia in the community by eroding trust amongst community members, and threatens our constitutionally protected first-amendment rights to freedom of religion, expression and assembly. This theory has been debunked by a multitude of studies on radicalization, yet is still being used in the Department of Homeland Security’s approach to working with the Muslim community in the United States and as a model for CVE programs.  

Currently, we are facing a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and bigotry across the nation as Muslims in America are being targeted in hate crimes. Last week, the nation witnessed the murder of three young, Muslim students, Yusor Abu-Salha, Razan Abu-Salha, and Deah Barakat in what appears to be a religiously-motivated hate crime. The sentiments of fear and feeling unsafe are reverberating throughout the Muslim community already, and through CVE, the federal government is undermining the concerns of Muslims in America and further perpetuating tensions and a hostile environment for Muslims.

As leaders of our MSAs, and advocates for social equity and protection of civil liberties for all Americans, we firmly stand in opposition to the Countering Violent Extremism programs to ensure that our American Muslim community is not mistreated and that our youth are able to live their lives free from fear of surveillance, racial and religious profiling, and as strong, active members of their communities.
Authored by: Muslim Student Association West (MSA West)

Signed,

1. Muslim Student Association at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

2. Muslim Student Association at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo

3. Muslim Student Association at California State University, East Bay

4. Muslim Student Association at California State University, Fullerton

5. Muslim Student Association at California State University, Long Beach

6. Muslim Student Association at California State University, Los Angeles

7. Muslim Student Association at California State University, Northridge

8. Muslim Student Association at California State University, San Bernardino

9. Muslim Student Association at California State University, San Marcos

10. Muslim Student Association at Chapman University

11. Muslim Student Association at the Claremont Colleges

12. Muslim Student Association at San Diego State University

13. Muslim Student Association at San Francisco State University

14. Muslim Student Association at San Jose State University

15. Muslim Student Association at Santa Clara University

16. Muslim Student Association at University of California, Berkeley

17. Muslim Student Association at University of California, Davis

18. Muslim Student Union at University of California, Irvine

19. Muslim Student Association at University of California, Los Angeles

20. Muslim Student Association at University of California, Merced

21. Muslim Student Association at University of California,  Riverside

22. Muslim Student Association at University of California, San Diego

23. Muslim Student Association at University of California, Santa Barbara

24. Muslim Student Association at University of California, Santa Cruz

25. Muslim Student Association at University of the Pacific

26. Muslim Student Union at University of Southern California

27. Women's Muslim Student Association at San Francisco State University
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1. Muslim Advocates. “Countering Violent Extremism,” available at http://www.muslimadvocates.org/countering-violent-extremism-cve/

2. Mitchell D. Silber & Arvin Bhatt, NYPD Intelligence Div., “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat” [hereinafter “NYPD Report 2007 Version”]. 2007. Available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/public_information/NYPD_Report-Radicalization_in_the_West.pdf

3. Patel, Faiza. Rethinking radicalization. 2011. Available at https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/RethinkingRadicalization.pdf

Copyright © 2015 MSA West, All rights reserved.

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publicrelations@msawest.org, (703) 999-9832

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