Altmuslim Publishes MPAC Op-ed on ‘Safe Spaces Initiative’ & Dealing with Extremism

Los Angeles, CA: This weekend, Altmuslim published the op-ed “Empowering the Community to Deal with Extremism in Our Mosques” by Salam Al-Marayati , President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

The op-ed addresses the lessons learned from the Boston Marathon bombing and the need for us, the American Muslim community, to adjust our approach toward young people who express themselves in a troubling manner. Tamerlan Tsarnaev displayed troubling signs before he started his path towards violent extremism. Perhaps intervening with him through peer and religious counseling, rather than kicking him out of the mosque, could have prevented the bombing from taking place.
SEE: “Empowering the Community to Deal with Extremism in Our Mosques” (Altmuslim.com)
In addition to the op-ed, MPAC launched the “Safe Spaces Initiative” last week. It is a community toolkit designed to empower the community to address these situations and concerns through the PIE model — Prevention, Intervention, Ejection.
By highlighting the PIE model, Al-Marayati stresses that it is our civic and religious responsibility to try to help any person who demonstrates troubling signs.
The op-ed reads in part:

We aim to prevent violent ideology with a dose of good theology and healthy, honest conversations in our mosques. We then try to intervene with anyone who exemplifies troubling behavior. Finally, we resort to ejection from our mosques when all other measures are exhausted. In all cases of violent activity, we remind our constituents to call law enforcement. The precise mechanisms for these steps can be found in the community toolkit.
The toolkit is a practical set of options to empower communities against violence and extremism through education and rehabilitation not just incarceration. These are actual steps communities can take to create crisis intervention teams to prevent violent extremism.
Safe spaces are created for everyone entering our mosques to be able to have difficult conversations. People need to feel comfortable discussing politics or persecution of Muslims in places such as Palestine or Kashmir or drone attacks that harm the innocent in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Safe spaces are needed so that government informants and extremist recruiters are prevented from violating the sanctity of the mosque. In essence, we want to enhance both a spiritual safety and public safety...
... Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) has a famous tradition attributed to him: Help your brother if he is oppressed or is the oppressor. His companions replied that they understood how to help if he is oppressed but confused on how to help if he an oppressor. The Prophet replied, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Bukhari, Book of 46, Hadith 5]
Terrorism is a form of oppression, and it is distorting and defiling the message of Islam more than anything else in our era. We need to take control of our own narrative in the United States our own mosques and in the public arena.

Founded in 1988, MPAC is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of American Muslims.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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