Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Blog

At last week's Senate Homeland Security Committee markup of S.1536, the Homeland Security Reauthorization Act, Senators once again hotly debated what language should be used to describe the threat of domestic terrorism.  

As detailed in our blog post on Monday, the bill authored by Chairman Lieberman (I-CT), states in section 213 that, “the Secretary shall designate an official of the Department to coordinate efforts to counter violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism” [emphasis mine].

As we pointed out earlier, “such language completely ignores the fact that domestic terror groups – including far-right militants, white supremacy groups, eco-terrorists and extreme animal rights activists – have historically been more wide-spread and dangerous than domestic “Islamist” terrorist groups.

Fortunately, thanks to the leadership shown by Michigan Senator Carl Levin, the committee adopted an important amendment to the controversial language in section 213. Levin’s amendment effectively strips the use of the word “particularly” with reference to Islam to avoid a discriminatory singling-out of American Muslim communities.

Singling out Islam in this fashion in connection with domestic terrorism unduly conflates the religion of Islam with the perverse ideology held by Al-Qaeda and its allies. Regardless of the intentions of the bill’s sponsors, the original language would feed the fire of Islamophobia, by implying that Islam has some sort of predilection towards terrorism.

DHS should be concerned with protecting Americans, not from the religion of Islam, but from violent extremism.

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