Muslim groups concerned about terror prevention program

Published 1:55 pm Saturday, May 2, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — About 40 Muslim groups in Minnesota are voicing concern about a federal program designed to fight terror recruiting, according to a statement sent out Friday by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The statement, which contains the names of several mosques, student groups and other Muslim organizations, asks the Department of Justice to discontinue the program, saying it unfairly singles out members of the state’s large Somali community for their nationality and religion.

“While we support the right of all Americans to live in democratic communities free of violence, we cannot in good conscience condone or help refine programs that are fundamentally discriminatory and are likely to further subject our community members to additional civil rights abuses,” the statement said.

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Minneapolis is one of three cities participating in a pilot program designed to prevent terror recruiting by creating opportunities for youth and those considered at-risk. While the government said it’s a community-led initiative and supporters see it is a way to fight extremism, some activists have expressed concern that it will amount to government surveillance of Muslim communities. Similar concerns have been raised in Boston and Los Angeles, the other cities in the program.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota, which has spent months explaining its outreach to local Somalis and religious leaders, has said repeatedly that its pilot program is separate from its investigative and prosecutorial duties.