Although Trump’s hostility towards Muslims has been well-documented in the press, countering violent extremism programs initiated during the Obama administration, while couched in neutral terms, set the stage for a focus xclusively on Muslims.
This, despite the fact that empirical data show that violence from far right movements results in at least as many fatalities in the U.S. as attacks inspried by al Qaeda or the Islamic State, notes a March 2017 report from the Brennan Center for Justice, Countering Violent Extremism. In addition to stigmatizing Muslim communities as inherently suspect, it also creates serious risks of flagging innocuous activity as pre-terrorism and suppressing religious observance and speech, the report explains. “These flaws are only exacerbated when CVE programs are run by an administration that is overtly hostile towards Muslims, and that includes within its highest ranks individuals known for their frequent and public denunciations of a faith that is practiced by 1.6 billion people around the world,” the report states.
The report asserts that future CVE programs are unlikely to achieve security benefits, and meanwhile carry the risk of “damaging critical relationships between law enforcement and Muslim communities, further undermining the goal of preventing terrorism.” As such, the report recommends a shift towards a framework that sees American Muslims as a source of strength rather than suspicion.