Minnesota mosques, Muslim orgs raise concerns with anti-terror recruitment pilot

Nearly 50 mosques, Muslim organizations and student groups have signed a statement that highlights concerns with a federal pilot program to combat radicalization and terror recruitment in Minnesota.

"While we support the right of all Americans to live in democratic communities free of violence, we cannot in good conscience condone or help refine programs that are fundamentally discriminatory and are likely to further subject our community members to additional civil rights abuses," said the statement released by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The statement lists 44 Muslim organizations as undersigned supporters, as well as the National Lawyers Guild.

Alternative plan suggested

"It is our recommendation that the government stop investing in programs that will only stigmatize, divide and marginalize our communities further," the statement said.

The groups instead suggest the following framework to combat extremism:

Support for a Minnesota Muslim community-based task force, which is currently under development to serve as an outreach resource for law enforcement agencies.

Funds for anti-radicalization programs should be separated from federal counter-terrorism and law enforcement agencies. Instead, funding should come from foundations, community organizations and state and local government.

The Department of Justice should protect groups and individuals who intervene with those they believe are vulnerable to recruitment into extremist groups. Those who intervene should not be penalized with prosecution, watch-listing or surveillance because of their association with a potential violent extremist.

The statement also calls on Congress to investigate the federal government's "overbroad surveillance of mosques and American Muslims, absent evidence of criminal activity."

Community Resiliency Program

This Justice Department pilot program is designed to combat the recruiting of young men and women for terror by getting at root causes, like unemployment and a lack of opportunity. Other programs were started in Los Angeles and Boston, but Minnesota is the program everyone is watching. That's because as many as 40 people have left Minnesota since 2007 to fight for al-Shabaab in Somalia and ISIS in Syria.

"There is a very sophisticated and persuasive message coming from overseas, that you have a better life, a more meaningful life, fighting overseas for terrorists," U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said.

Luger wants to combat that message in several ways.

- Youth and after school programs

- Job fairs and job training programs

- Eliminate ethnic profiling at the airport

- Get more Somalis in law enforcement careers

- Increase engagement between religious leaders and youth

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota is reviewing the statement released by CAIR regarding its pilot program.

Organizations listed on CAIR letter of concern
Read a complete copy of the letter at http://bit.ly/1I3DfD9

Council on American Islamic Relations CAIR MN
Global Somali Diaspora
Muslim Youth and Family Services
Islamic Relief & Social Services
African Family and Education Center
Abubakar As-Sidique Islamic Center
Tawfiq Islamic Center
Islamic Center of Twin Ports "ICTP"
mYouth
Brooklyn Park Islamic Center
Building Blocks of Islam
al-Mahmood Foundation
ICM-Muslim Youth of Minnesota
Dar Al-Farooq
Al Farooq Youth & Family Center
ICCMN/Al-Iman Center
Masjid Al-Ihsan
Islamic Center of Owatonna (Masjid Al Rahma)
Burnsville Mosque (Al Salaam)
Roshester Islamic Center
Irshad Islamic Center Eden Prairie
Masjid Al-Huda (ICCC)
Masjid Al Tawba/Eden Prairie Islamic Center (ICCC)
Ummatul Islam Center
Masjid Ash-Shafi
Masjid As-Sunnah (St Paul)
Minnesota Dawah Institute
Al Farooq Youth & Family Center
Dar-Alqalam Islamic Center
Abubakar As-Sidique Islamic Center-Faribault MN
Masjid Rowdah
Masjid Ni'mat ul-Islaam
Muslim student association SCSU
Mankato Islamic center
Islamic Center of Minnesota
Abukhadra Mosque
Al-Madinah Cultural Center
University of Minnesota Muslim Student Association
University of St Thomas Muslim Student Association
MCTC- Muslim Student Association
MNIA
MCC
Engage Minnesota Muslims
Global Deaf Muslim the Minnesota chapter


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