American Muslims Spoke to the President, He Listened

July 10, 2015

President Obama speaking with MPAC's Riham Osman and other American Muslims at the 2015 White House Iftar.
President Obama speaking with MPAC's Riham Osman and other American Muslims at the 2015 White House Iftar.

Dear Friend,

This week, President Barack Obama made a statement from the Pentagon that may have changed US policy that impacts American Muslims. While the main focus of the statement was regarding ISIS, the Commander-in-Chief also made a brief but crucial comment about the White House’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) policy:

“Now, I think it's important for us to recognize the threat of violent extremism is not restricted to any one community. Here in the United States, we’ve seen all kinds of homegrown terrorism. And tragically, recent history reminds us how even a single individual motivated by a hateful ideology with access to dangerous weapons can inflict horrendous harm on Americans. So our efforts to counter violent extremism must not target any one community because of their faith or background, including patriotic Muslim Americans who are our partners in keeping our country safe.”

This marks a positive shift from the Administration’s previous statements, in which they reluctantly admitted that CVE has thus far targeted mainly Muslims. While this shift may seem like only a small step, it has enormous implications for the future of CVE and the American Muslim community’s interactions with this Administration. He has now shown that he is open and willing to listen to the concerns of his constituents. Concerns were brought up to officials at the Department of Homeland Security by MPAC’s Young Leaders during our annual summit, as well as concerns I expressed to President Obama individually at the White House Iftar, in addition to the many other voices that have contributed to this debate from across Muslim communities.

In short, this is a clear sign that engagement works, and that no concern will go totally unnoticed if we continue to speak up, speak out and maintain an open relationship with those whose minds we wish to change. But, we cannot stop here.

As we stressed earlier this Ramadan, access is half of the engagement process. We must institutionalize engagement. Now more than ever, it is imperative that all American Muslims come together collectively and continue to voice our interests and concerns. President Obama has spoken quite loudly with regards to CVE, but actions speak louder than words, and the progress that has been made must be capitalized on so that we can continue our progress as a community.

We applaud President Obama and his Administration for recognizing the fact that “American Muslim” is a combined and inseparable identity, no different from “American Christian,” “American Jewish,” or any other national and religious hybrid identity. We look forward to continuing the discussion, and seeing similar statements and further actions regarding a fair, balanced and effective CVE in the months to come, to help create a more secure America for all.


Riham Osman
MPAC Communications Coordinator



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