On Friday, March 13th, 2015, Orange County Islamic Foundation OCIF invited the participants of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) on February 18th, 2015, to be a part of a panel along with a group who is opposing CVE, CAIR.
In the Friday khutba, Salam Al- Marayati made an enlightening point: our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) welcomed discussions and debate and encouraged his Ummah to have dialogue and accept opposing points of view. Incidentally, panelists, MPAC’s Salam Al_Marayati, Maria Khani, Professor Ahmed Younis, and I spoke about our experience at the Summit and our thoughts on being a part of a historic Summit at the White House, with the President, and the Vice President seeking ways to engage the Muslims to help build strong communities, through interaction with other communities, interfaith alliances, federal and local government, and law enforcement, many of whom were present, so that Muslims can be a more resilient and empowered community.
The premise of the CVE framework rests on protecting the rights and civil liberties of all Americans and thus our delegation was lead by the Acting US Attorney, Stephanie Yonekura, whose family had suffered from the Japanese Internment.
The notion that the CVE framework will involve surveillance and monitoring of Muslims and that Muslims are being targeted is FALSE. The framework helps empower the communities to deal with issues themselves and gives them the leverage to use the resources provided by the government and law enforcement. To become the first line of defense in countering extremism, bigotry, and challenges that face us going forward is to become a community that is ENGAGED and RESILIENT. We need to build networks and alliances that are strong and learn to combat bigotry from other minority communities that have developed successful programs such as the Jewish and the Japanese communities.
CAIR’s allegation that this is targeting Muslims is incorrect. American Muslims should stand proud that their president included them and gave them an opportunity to be a part of the framework and did not exclude them. As stated by a lady in the audience, "How many of us can say that our birth countries will ever give us the same opportunity, to be a part of the conversation at such a high level?" A gentleman asked CAIR why they were not invited, but their response was vague. A young reporter came to me, at the end of the town hall and told me about the two girls from her own high school who almost joined ISIS from Colorado and that she was doing a story on ISIS after she heard about them. She mentioned how she thought that groups opposing the CVE efforts are polarizing the community and not acknowledging that this is a unified American effort to counter extremism in all shape and form and that everyone should be a part of the conversation, even with dissenting views. I agree with her reflection.
Whatever the results of the open discussion, the truth remains clear - Muslims of America have two choices - to be part of policy making and engage - or to isolate and exclude themselves from the dialogue. The choice for the majority of Muslims in American is clear - integrate, discuss, engage, and debate.
A link to the townhall can be found at: