U.S. Strategy: Don't Demonize Muslims

Muslims pray on the first day of Ramadan. (Getty Images)

Adam Serwer, in his blog on the American Prospect, takes a look at the Obama administration's long-awaited strategy for countering violent extremism.

The White House released its strategy for countering violent extremism today, and while the use of that particular phrase may provoke howls of "political correctness" from conservatives, the strategy identifies "al-Qa'ida and its affiliates and adherents represent the preeminent terrorist threat to our country." The strategy also emphasizes the importance of local actors in resisting and identifying extremism, and contains an implicit rebuke to Republicans singling out the Muslim community as being full of potential subversives:

"This type of violent extremism is a complicated challenge for the United States, not only because of the threat of attacks, but also because of its potential to divide us. Groups and individuals supporting al-Qa'ida's vision are attempting to lure Americans to terrorism in order to create support networks and facilitate attack planning, but this also has potential to create a backlash against Muslim Americans. Such a backlash would feed al-Qa'ida's propaganda that our country is anti-Muslim and at war against Islam, handing our enemies a strategic victory by turning our communities against one another; eroding our shared sense of identity as Americans; feeding terrorist recruitment abroad; and threatening our fundamental values of religious freedom and pluralism.Violent extremists prey on the disenchantment and alienation that discrimination creates, and they have a vested interest in anti-Muslim sentiment. It is for this reason that our security — preventing radicalization that leads to violence — is inextricably linked to our values: the protection of civil rights and civil liberties and the promotion of an inclusive society."


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