ADC Calls on Massachusetts Health and Human Services to Reject “Violent Extremism” Campaign
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | April 7, 2016 – On Tuesday, April 5, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee strongly advised the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services to not participate in Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programming and funding.
Under a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, federal law enforcement, CVE grant funding is filtered through the Massachusetts Health and Human Services from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Our communities are extremely underserved, and Massachusetts Health and Human Services is evading its responsibility to provide services to our community by implementing CVE.
In comments and input submitted to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) pursuant to the Request for Information (RFI), ADC detailed how the CVE program is detrimental to our community. The CVE program was specifically created to target, surveil and monitor Arabs and Muslims based solely on their identity. The RFI also improperly assumes that there are “warning signs” and/or behaviors that indicate persons are “at-risk” to violent extremism or radicalization. Proffered signs of social marginalization, alienation, psychological disorders, and political grievances as warning signs do not automatically equate to violent extremism or terrorism.
Furthermore, the allocation of resources to the Arab and Muslim community for health and mental health services should not be couched under the Countering and/or Preventing Violent Extremism umbrella. It is a shame that the only way our community can get social services is when they are identified as “suspect.”
Alarmingly, according to the RFI, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies include development and use of multidisciplinary teams (MDT). The make-up of the MDT is similar to the Shared Responsibility Committee’s pushed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). ADC has serious concerns about the existence of MDTs, especially in relation to the role of law enforcement in the referral and screening process, disclosure of legally privileged communications with religious figures and therapists, targeting of students and role of teachers, and First Amendment and Due Process concerns.