When Engagement Brings Results: The White House CVE Summit

February 19, 2015


Picture by Diego Cambiaso, Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati and Director of the Washington, DC, Office Haris Tarin attended the White House Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday. Below is their statement on their experience. Also, please register here for a webinar with Al-Marayati and Tarin today at 11 am PT/2 pm ET on their understanding of CVE and the summit

The White House held a two-day Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) summit to discuss best practices of countering extremist narratives, strategic community partnerships and innovative programs initiated and driven by communities.

Vice President Joe Biden, in his remarks on the first day, clarified that American Muslims are an integral part of society and are seen for who they really are, as full American citizens. MPAC came into the summit with the intention to discuss three specific goals: that US Muslims are treated as partners and not suspects, that government CVE programs are ineffective and community-led initiatives should be supported, and that entrapment and broad surveillance are antithetical to our nation’s values and erode the trust of communities.

The Vice President stated, “We have with us the President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council who launched the Safe Spaces Initiative, which is a grassroots effort to train Muslim religious leaders and communities to intervene to prevent young people from going down the path of violent extremism.”

On the second day of the summit, panels focusing on three cities (Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Boston) were highlighted as examples of what is going right between communities and law enforcement. MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati spoke on the Los Angeles panel, telling the audience, “While we are not responsible for violent extremism, we must take responsibility in leadership to counter violent extremism since the American public is scared from groups like Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram.” In the partnership model, communities will have jurisdiction on religious and social matters, not law enforcement.

In President Obama’s speech, which concluded the summit, he outlined how the US government will not use religious labels to describe terrorists. “Al Qaeda and ISIS are desperate for religious legitimacy,” he said. The President continued, “They are not religious leaders - they are terrorists.”

The President also included incidents of violent extremism from White militia and supremacist groups, such as the Oak Creek massacre of a Sikh temple and the Oklahoma City bombing. He also stated that Muslims must be welcomed in America and should not have to live in fear. Citing the Chapel Hill murder of three Muslim students, the President is stressing that intolerance and prejudice have no place in America.

The President also acknowledged the mistrust and securitized relationships the American Muslim community has to endure vis-a-vis relations with law enforcement. He also highlighted a need for change in how law enforcement views the Muslim community and how American society needs to view the Muslim community with a broader lens and not only through that of national security.

MPAC went into the summit with three specific goals and had in-depth conversations with the President, Vice President, and the highest National Security Council members on these issues. We aim to develop a strong national security strategy that treats American Muslims as partners, endorses community-led CVE initiatives like Safe Spaces, and preserves the values of freedom and justice in America.

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