A Dialogue on Our Nation's Security, Without Compromising Our Nation's Integrity

February 19, 2010

Deputy National Security Adviser, John Brennan
Deputy National Security Adviser, John Brennan

On February 13, John Brennan, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, delivered an address on national security at New York University hosted by the Islamic Center at NYU and the Islamic Law Student's Association. The speech brought together a group of diverse individuals ranging from leaders from the Muslim American community to government officials for a discussion entitled, A Dialogue on Our Nation's Security. MPAC's Executive Director, Salam Al-Marayati, was invited by the White House to attend this important discussion and meet privately with the keynote speaker, John Brennan.

The relationships that have been formed and that continue to grow as a result of the determined outreach to government, law enforcement agencies, and public figures continue to provide our community with the support needed and deserved.

Brennan's remarks during the discussion epitomized that relationship of mutual respect and understanding that exists between the Muslim community and members of the U.S. government.  During his remarks Brennan mentioned President Obama's efforts to continue fighting negative stereotypes of Islam and went on to state,

This is not only a matter of civil rights.  It's a matter of our national security.  And it's a matter of our morality as a nation.  Hostility and harassment towards American Muslims and towards members of other faiths or other backgrounds or other races, plays right into the hands of violent extremists.  It reinforces the misguided notion that American Muslims are somehow separate from, rather than a part of, America.

Mr. Brennan made two important points in his address that signified the importance of MPAC's government engagement over the last 15 years in Washington: 

  1. He rejected the label of jihadist to describe terrorists, because it legitimates violent extremism with religious validation, a point MPAC made in its 2003 policy paper on counterterrorism; and  
  2. He asserted that the community should be at the forefront of confronting radical ideology while law enforcement deals with criminal behavior, a point made in MPAC's recent counter radicalization paper.

The determination amongst leaders and organizations in our community continue to counteract the deteriorating perceptions of Muslims and Islam.  Henceforth, our efforts need not abate due to signs of progress, but rather they need to be approached with more vigor in order to ascend to the next level.

Continuous engagement on policy and law enforcement issues is essential to the safety and security of our nation and the growth of the Muslim American community's stature in the American fabric of life.  MPAC's presence on the front lines of these issues remains imperative to the overall outcome of this discourse.

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