Where Governments Fail and Civil Society Wins

In our outreach we speak citizen to citizen. We don’t have an agenda, and our program is understood. Muslims give us a benefit of doubt. We win where government fails because we have no separate agenda and our cause is easily grasped. Countering Violent Extremism called CVE is now a very dirty word in our communities in America. Opposition to it came about because simply it was our government that rolled it out. Nationally Muslim activists got invited to the White House. Here these Muslims went to White House and signed onto CVE as a means to help secure our democracy. They came up with point plans and best way to go about doing it. What came out of it ? The entire Muslim community in America disowned the process. Grants were offered to funding opportunities to Muslim Organizations. Zero Muslim organizations accepted their grant. Some went public in media saying they will not accept much needed resource because it is built on Islamophobia, Racism and Nativist thinking on the part of our government. Simply put our government even after dialogue did what it wanted, what has not worked in the 18 years of war on extremism. The Muslim community did not feel that they have a partner in effort who respects them or even values them.

The failure of our government is here contrasted with civil society is one in which there is little or no trust. Today opposition to anything resembling CVE in the Muslim community is now openly done led by organizations such Council American Islamic Relations (CAIR). We at Average Mohamed did not get the grant, did not participate in the discussions of our government and civil society. Yet, we face renewed opposition from a community that sees itself ostracized, labelled and distrusted by their own government. The overwhelming feeling within our community is that we have been reduced to wards of surveillance and opinions do not count. In other words, our government does what it wants, we on the other hand seek it to do what works.

CVE done by government is universally understood to be a useless venture. Our government has too many agendas from open ended surveillance of our communities to many other issues which the communities of Muslim will never sign onto. Where they fail to make the case against Extremism, we in civil society succeed. Do you know what Average Mohamed gets accused of the most by detractors. They say I am pro surveillance and an agent of the FBI within our community. Anything Muslim that gets associated with our government is bound to be targeted. Folks who work with CAIR MN is making that case on social media as I write. Yet, we at Average Mohamed continue engaging our community. We try reach out to our government and tell them come right or don’t come because you cause more friction than good with your current approaches. At this point we who stood up to defend our government because we feel obligated to our society to be on best terms with its government are getting burned. Our government does not want to share resources without adding surveillance component to it. We Muslims cannot accept much needed resources only to turn around and surveillance our community. Where we have succeeded in making the case against extremism, today we find ourselves in retreat because of lack of understanding, adaptation or ability to change on the part of our government.

Where our government failed, we have succeeded in creating safe spaces to talk about extremism and engage our youths. What we need now more than ever is leaders in positions of power who can correct sensibilities. Engage honestly with all of us, from civil society to community at large. From points of understanding that we can sign onto. Share networks, share thinking we can agree with. Where government has failed, we civil society have succeeded. The coaches, the Imams, the school teachers, the social workers and folks like Average Mohamed to help ourselves. We all need a new way to do things. We urge our government to embrace our success and make it work nationally.

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