U.S. Senators denounce Trump plan to focus counter-extremism programme on Islam | Reuters

By Dustin Volz | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON A dozen Democratic senators on Thursday urged the Trump administration to reconsider overhauling and renaming a U.S. government programme so it would focus solely on countering Islamist extremism, saying it could jeopardise security and may be illegal.Restructuring the programme to omit white supremacists and other non-Islamist groups 'would severely damage our credibility with foreign allies and partners as an honest broker in the fight against violent extremism, and prove divisive in communities across our country,' Senators Cory Booker, Brian Schatz and 10 others wrote in a letter addressed to cabinet secretaries.Reuters reported last week that Republican President Donald Trump's administration wants to rename the 'Countering Violent Extremism,' or CVE, programme introduced by the previous Democratic administration of Barack Obama to 'Countering Islamic Extremism' or 'Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.'The potential name change reflects a broader goal of Trump's to exclude groups in the programme's purview such as white supremacist, whose followers have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States, five sources familiar with the matter said.CVE aimed to address the causes of why some people are drawn to violence or extremism by providing grants and other resources to community groups to develop prevention efforts, including using social media

Reuters February 10, 2017 02:30:08 IST
U.S. Senators denounce Trump plan to focus counter-extremism programme on Islam
| Reuters

US Senators denounce Trump plan to focus counterextremism programme on Islam
 Reuters

By Dustin Volz
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON A dozen Democratic senators on Thursday urged the Trump administration to reconsider overhauling and renaming a U.S. government programme so it would focus solely on countering Islamist extremism, saying it could jeopardise security and may be illegal.Restructuring the programme to omit white supremacists and other non-Islamist groups "would severely damage our credibility with foreign allies and partners as an honest broker in the fight against violent extremism, and prove divisive in communities across our country," Senators Cory Booker, Brian Schatz and 10 others wrote in a letter addressed to cabinet secretaries.Reuters reported last week that Republican President Donald Trump's administration wants to rename the "Countering Violent Extremism," or CVE, programme introduced by the previous Democratic administration of Barack Obama to "Countering Islamic Extremism" or "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism."The potential name change reflects a broader goal of Trump's to exclude groups in the programme's purview such as white supremacist, whose followers have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States, five sources familiar with the matter said.CVE aimed to address the causes of why some people are drawn to violence or extremism by providing grants and other resources to community groups to develop prevention efforts, including using social media.

Earlier this month, Trump signed an executive order temporarily blocking travel to the United States by people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, prompting a global outcry and charges from his critics that he was advancing a white nationalist agenda.Trump has rejected characterisations of the order as a "Muslim ban" and said it is necessary to protect national security.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials who work on CVE met on Tuesday to continue discussions about the proposed changes, according to two sources who have worked closely with DHS on the programme.Refocusing CVE efforts on Islam would "alienate Muslim organizations and individuals in the United States" the senators wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Wade Warren, acting administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development."It will also put U.S. service members, diplomats, development practitioners, and citizens travelling the world at significant risk, and will increase the likelihood of more attacks," the letter said, and could "violate constitutional protections and the rights of American citizens."

White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment on the reported changes last week, but said during a briefing that the programme was initially intended to focus on "rooting out radical Islamic terrorism."Several former DHS officials told Reuters the CVE programme was not conceived with that goal, although it has been criticized by even some supporters as tacitly too focussed on Muslims or largely ineffective. (Reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington, additional reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley and Kristina Cooke; editing by Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.