On this episode, Kumars interviews Fatema Ahmad, deputy director of Muslim Justice League, a Boston-based community organization committed to providing support to Muslims and others targeted by state surveillance. She has also worked with the American Friends Service Committee’s Communities against Islamophobia project and Muslims for Social Justice.
We learn about Countering Violent Extremism or CVE, a federal anti-terrorism program that provides training, funding and otherwise enables people to report on and stamp out the "seeds of radicalization" in mosques, universities, restaurants and other cultural spaces. Though it is deeply racist and has been proven ineffective, CVE's infiltration and surveillance has fed a climate of fear and distrust among US Muslims. CVE programs encourage people to view common Muslim religious and cultural practices, as well as political activity as innocuous as going to an anti-war protest, with suspicion. Fatema highlights the dangers of addressing the racist implementation of CVE with calls for "equal opportunity surveillance" of both white and non-white extremists. Fatema argues that as long as a surveillance apparatus exists, it will always be enforced in a racist manner, so the focus should be on ending these programs rather than expanding them to others. We also talk about the tensions inherent in trying to prevent political extremist violence without acknowledging and addressing the root causes, western imperialism and capitalist exploitation chief among them. Fatema discusses ways that people can get involved in fighting against CVE programs and against the surveillance and criminalization of Muslim communities, and how to avoid accidentally feeding into narratives that stigmatize.
Follow Muslim Justice League on Twitter at @MuslimJustice.
A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.