A legal advocacy group filed a Freedom of Information Act request Monday with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to obtain documents concerning a grant under its Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program.
The request, filed by Muslim Advocates, was to obtain more information on a grant of $500,000 to the National Governors Association to establish policy academies “aimed at developing strategic plans for preventing ideologically inspired violence”.
The filing follows an announcement by the association that such ‘academies’ will be created in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan and Virginia.
The CVE program was established in 2011 under the administration of President Barack Obama with the aim thwarting efforts by extremist groups to recruit would-be terrorists. It focused on working with non-governmental organizations, academia, mental health institutes, the private sector and local communities.
Under the program, a Strategic Implementation Plan was also announced by the DHS with the aim of enhancing engagement with local communities that may be targeted by violent extremists, building government and law enforcement expertise for preventing violent extremism, and countering violent extremist propaganda.
While the U.S. government says the policy is aimed at all extremist groups and ideologies, many organizations say that in practice, it is known to target Muslims through surveillance and engage in discriminatory profiling.
"CVE is a controversial program through which federal grants are provided to local organizations and groups, who are then tasked with identifying individuals in the community who are supposedly 'at risk' of radicalization and violence," Muslim Advocates said in a statement.
Other organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have said that CVE programs were being used to obtain information on Muslim communities.
“In addition to their proven ineffectiveness, CVE programs have long been known to unjustly target Muslim, black and brown communities,” Muslim Advocates Staff Attorney Juvaria Khan said in an online statement.
“Under CVE, the daily activities many Americans engage in will be viewed with suspicion and potentially criminalized. This is especially true for American Muslims. We call on DHS to release any and all documents pertaining to these programs in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan and Virginia so that Americans can understand how their communities are being affected," Khan added.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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