Officials from the White House administration declined to host a scheduled 2017 Islamic Iftar dinner as Presidents have done in the past. As well, they eliminated last year’s plans to help fund Islamic groups that former President Obama was associated with. This was made public on Friday when the Department of Homeland Security compiled and released a list of organizations that are receiving DHS funds to help prevent the creation of radical Islamic terrorists.
The new list dropped an $800,000 grant provided to an Islamic seminary located in Los Angeles, California as well as a $393,000 grant for a similar organization called the Muslim Public Affairs Council Foundation. Members of the Public Affairs Council were consistent advisors to former President Obama during his administration and they lobbied him on behalf of their own national security interests. They sought to have semi-segregated Islamic groups help to combat radical Islamic terrorism.
Head of DHS John Kelly said the following about radical Islamic terrorists,
“They are out there doing what they think is their religion and think [it is] what they are supposed to be doing … What I’ve elected to do is take what little money I have in this regard and give it to what I consider to be the time-proven things — law enforcement from an outreach point of view and communities developing relationships … so that there’s an open line of communication so they know if they see this [advocacy or preparation for violence] happening in the home or they see it happening — that is to say, the move towards radicalism — or they see it happening in the churches or mosques, they know to call someone before that person typically crosses the line.”
On June 23rd the Department of Homeland Security released a statement indicating they would only provide federal funds to those who worked with law enforcement officials and agencies. It said,
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will award 26 grants — totaling $10 million for two years of programming — to organizations that will work to improve the security of our communities and prevent terrorism. Grantees were selected in part because of their potential to support law enforcement and other frontline defenders, to demonstrate programmatic effectiveness, and to use taxpayer resources efficiently to create independently sustainable programs. Grants were approved for local law enforcement agencies, state and local government agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations.”
Some of the organizations that lost funding were Life After Hate Inc. who lost $400,000 and Ka Joong who lost $499,998. They are located in Minneapolis. The Muslim American Leadership Alliance lost approximately $40,000 and Unity Productions Foundation lost $396,585. Instead, the Department of Homeland Security took that money and allocated it to the Global Peace Foundation in New Jersey, the Heartland Democracy Center, and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minneapolis.
Unlike the former President, President Trump did not hold an Iftar dinner to celebrate the end of Ramadan and officials from the administration have not provided reasons as to why. It likely had something to do with the fact that because many Muslim predominant Middle Eastern countries are fighting right now weighing the costs of inviting all the ambassadors would be costly. Saudi Arabia has threatened Qatar, while Qatar is at war with Yemen. While Yemen is in a cold war with Iraq and Iran. As well, former invitees to Obama’s Iftar dinner are leaders of the organizations the administration cut funding for, people such as the president of MPAC, Salam Al-Marayati.
However, during his administration, President Obama never invited Islamic reformers who were pro-America and pro-West to his Iftar dinners such as Zuhdi Jasser who is the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. If President Trump held an Iftar dinner this man would no doubt be there. President Trump doesn’t care what religion you are so long as you love America.
Due to the shutdown in funds and relations, the MPAC released a statement basically threatening DHS and others,
“The notification letter we received today explained that upon further review, MPAC was excluded [from the grants] because we did not meet the criteria of working with law enforcement to counter violent extremism. This is true. Our position on this issue has consistently centered on community-led initiatives that improve mental health resources, access to counseling, and a host of other social services without [MPAC’s emphasis] the involvement or specter of law enforcement. While we have developed working relationships with law enforcement agencies in the past to improve officer training and the reporting of hate crimes, we have never conflated this work with community responses to issues of vulnerability and alienation.
To do so would fundamentally compromise our ability to provide safe and nurturing spaces. Our grant application embodied those core principles, and its ultimate rejection by the Trump administration clearly demonstrates a dramatic and worrying change in approach. The Trump Administration’s mishandling of the grant process underscores two fundamental flaws in its CVE [Countering Violent Extremism] policy: it focuses on criminal investigations in a non-criminal space …. The exclusion of groups like MPAC points to a DHS that is ineffective in coordinating with communities and unconstitutional in its treatment of a religious minority. MPAC will continue challenging the trajectory of the Trump administration’s efforts in this space by advocating for a holistic approach that empowers rather than sidelines communities, focuses on all forms of violent threats, and fosters a climate of trust over fear. We are considering all legal options in light of these changes.”
Groups like MPAC purposefully segregate Muslim communities in an attempt to try and perpetuate the narrative that they are discriminated against so they can further seclude their own people and create an air of hatred against the West. President Trump is doing the right thing by not funding and not inviting organizations to the White House who don’t fundamentally agree with American values and principles.