ACTION ALERT: Contact Elected Officials to Remove ‘Islamist’ Language from Homeland Security Bill

October 13, 2011


MPAC urges all concerned citizens to contact their local elected officials and demand the removal of the “Islamist” language and the creation of a position that focuses on counter ideas rather than criminal activity in the upcoming Senate and House Homeland Security spending bills. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are the co-sponsors of these bills.

SEE:Rep. King Calls for Department of Homeland Security to Go after Islamist Thugs" (NY Daily News)

According to Section 213 of Senate Bill 1546 and Section 102 of House Bill 3116, both call for the creation of a position within the Department of Homeland Security to "counter homegrown violent Islamist extremism,” particularly focusing on the “ideology” of violent extremists such as Al-Qaeda inside the US.

Using religiously laden terminology such as “Islamist” bolsters violent extremists and alienates mainstream Muslims by sending the false message that the United States is at war with Islam. This ignores the recommendations made by the Department of Homeland Security itself in a 2008 memo stating:

What terrorists fear most is irrelevance; what they need most is for large numbers of people to rally to their cause. There was a consensus that the USG should avoid unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers, or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims.  Therefore, the experts counseled caution in using terms such as, “jihadist,” “Islamic terrorist,” “Islamist,” and “holy warrior” as grandiose descriptions.

 

Furthermore creating a formal position designed to combat “ideology” is at best a waste of resources and at worst unconstitutional by monitoring people for their beliefs and not their actions.

“This provision is extremely problematic because it will use taxpayers’ money to go against the very recommendations made by the Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration,” said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. “We are calling on fellow Americans to contact their elected officials to remove this fatally flawed provision immediately. It will force our officials to engage in wasteful and counterproductive fishing expeditions based on people’s thoughts rather than illegal activity.”

TAKE ACTION:

  • Visit Congress.org and enter your zip code to get all the necessary contact information for your elected representatives. In just five minutes, you can make a phone call and send an email.
  • You can also contact the Capitol Hill switchboard to directly ask for your elected representative or senator: 202-224-3121

SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS:

  • We are asking you to remove the provisions with SB 1546 and HB 3116 specifically focusing on “Islamist” extremists.
  • Using religious terminology goes against a 2008 memo from the Department of Homeland Security that recommended avoiding religious-sounding terms such as “Islamist.”
  • This terminology will embolden al-Qaeda by giving their cause greater legitimacy and relevance as a religious struggle.
  • It is an unconstitutional waste of resources to focus on people’s ideas, not their criminal behaviors. If one group of people begins to be monitored for their ideas, where will it stop?
  • Singling out one group is to the detriment of our national security when there are many violent extremist threats to our safety. Under this provision Neo-Nazi “dirty bomber” James Cummings and Chemical Weapons terrorist William Krar would be overlooked.
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