In a revealing trend, four nonprofits groups involved with the Muslim-American community have rejected federal funding for countering violent extremism. For these groups, their image and making a political point is a higher priority than fighting radical Islam and helping their communities.
The four Muslim groups had been privileged to receive Homeland Security grants to support their efforts to “counter violent extremism;” a generic and politically-correct term that the Obama Administration used to avoid verbiage related to Islam.
Now, these groups are willing to sacrifice that funding and cut their programs just to stick it to President Trump. Their form of protest is not to use their voices, but to try to show how bad President Trump is by increasing the suffering and danger for their constituents and country more broadly.
An organization for Somali youth in Minnesota named Ka Joog is rejecting $500,000 that was supposed to promote education, prevent radicalization, drug use and other harmful activities. Whether you agree with the premise that radicalization is caused by those problems or not, the fact is that Ka Joog chose to deny that help to Somali youth in need.
Apparently unaware of how ridiculous his sentence sounded, executive director Mohamed Farah said the decision was made because President Trump is “promoting a cancerous ideology.” Yes, he actually said he’d decline an opportunity to fight the cancerous ideology of radical Islam because he is offended by the so-called “cancerous ideology” of President Trump.
One local Somali activist with a record of standing against radical Islam, Omar Jamal, said he disagrees with President Trump but “the community desperately needs the money” and it’s better to work with the government as best you can, regardless of politics.
A group in Michigan, Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities, won’t take $500,000 because it believes President Trump’s counter-extremism programs involve spying on Muslims. The group provided no evidence that accepting the money would actually require them to do that or that they’ve been asked.
The organization’s programs involve public health, human services, youth development, and education. They will suffer because of a hypothetical requirement that hasn’t happened yet or even been proposed by the Trump Administration.
The third group to join in, Unity Productions Foundation of Virginia, was given $400,000 to develop films featuring Islamic scholars condemning terrorism and Muslim-Americans contributing to society.
Muslim-American leadership regularly complains about such Islamic condemnations of terrorism not getting adequate attention and the public not seeing how Muslim-Americans are a positive part of the country.
This group was given a whopping $400,000 to do just that—but instead, it is responding to President Trump’s alleged anti-Muslim sentiment by rejecting money from President Trump’s administration to combat anti-Muslim sentiment. That makes absolutely no sense.
The Bayan Claremont Islamic school in California is the latest to join the trend, turning down $800,000 that was to “improve interreligious cooperation, civic engagement and social justice.” About $250,000 of that would have been transferred to a dozen other nonprofits doing work for the Muslim-American community.
The school’s faculty includes some controversial Islamic leaders accused of spreading radicalism and ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The staff includes Imam Suhaib Webb, Omid Safi and Ihsan Bagby.
Its president, Jihad Turk, said it was partially a response to reported plans by the Trump Administration to rename the Countering Violent Extremism programs to a title identifying radical Islam as the focus.
Keep in mind, Trump’s controversial plans—the travel pause derided as a “Muslim ban” to identifying the threat as radical Islam—don’t alter these services. These policies do not stop these groups from combating extremism on their own or from providing charity to those in need. You don’t have to agree with your President to help others and work to protect your country to the best of your ability.
By this logic, schools that dislike Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should punish their students by turning away federal funding.
Another element is at play here: Pressure from Islamists and their allies.
Fox News reports that two of the nonprofits “said they were rejecting grants they had already been awarded under the program because of concerns that it could damage their credibility or come with uncomfortable strings attached.”
If they want to maximize the fissure between the Muslim-American community and Trump Administration, they can suggest that merely getting a grant makes you a tool of his policies, even if you don’t support the policy and have nothing to do with implementing it.
Such attacks can make the Trump Administration lose Muslim partners, enabling Islamists to rally the community together like a single political party under their helm. An added bonus is that any danger and controversy that arises from the severed relationships can be blamed on Trump’s policies that they sabotaged.
The good news is that there are plenty of non-profits, including Muslim ones with an unequivocal stand against Islamism, that deserve the grant money. One of the disadvantages that such Muslim organizations have is a lack of financial support from which to build a network, provide services, etc.
If these nonprofits want to put politics and ego above charity and fighting extremism, then there are plenty of other options for these grants. The obvious replacements are Muslim ones with unequivocal stands against Islamism, regardless of how they feel about President Trump.