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Program To Counter Violent Extremism To Shift Focus

The Trump administration will reportedly change the Countering Violent Extremism program to exclusively focus on battling radical Islam, rather than addressing all violent groups.

The administration will rename the program Countering Islamic Extremism or Countering Radical Islamic Extremism, sources told Reuters.

Many Republicans believe the program was ineffective under the Obama administration, which they accused of being too politically correct at the expense of security. They say this rebranding will help strengthen the program by giving it a clear focus.

Through education, social media campaigns and community partnerships, the program once sought to combat all violent ideologies, including white supremacy.

Funds were also granted to various related organizations. Their causes ranged from to working to stop ISIS recruitment, to rehabilitating former violent neo-Nazis.

The rebranding has sparked controversy, particularly given statistics revealing non-Muslim extremists are more of a domestic threat.

A 2015 report from a Washington research center -- New America -- revealed that, since 9/11, nearly twice as many Americans have been killed by non-Muslim extremists than violent radical Muslims. Many of those responsible for these attacks were white supremacists.

“Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists,” said researcher Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina, The New York Times reports.

“There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown,” chimed in Dr. John G. Horgan, who, at the time, was studying terrorism at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. “And there’s a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated.”

Some worry the changes will encourage anti-Muslim sentiment, while simultaneously discouraging the Muslim community from working with the government.

"That is concerning for us because they are targeting a faith group and casting it under a net of suspicion," said Hoda Hawa, director of policy for the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Sources: Reuters, New America, The New York Times / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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