Politics

This Congressman Wants the U.S. Government to Investigate Islam

July 14th 2017

By:
Ethan Simon

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Friday on a controversial amendment to a military spending bill that would require the Secretary of Defense to "conduct two concurrent strategic assessments of the use of violent or unorthodox Islamic religious doctrine to support extremist or terrorist messaging and justification."

 

 

The amendment, proposed by Republican Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, would also require the Pentagon to identify and differentiate between peaceful and extremist Muslim leaders, and to identify ways to promote what it portrays as U.S.-friendly thinking. The Pentagon would also identify "major or significant identifiable Islamic religious doctrines, concepts, or schools of thought used by various extremist groups for specific purposes, such as recruitment, radicalization, financing, or propaganda."

 

 

Unsurprisingly, there are critics. Speaking with Politico, Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota and the first Muslim in Congress, opposed the measure on First Amendment grounds. "If you have an amendment that says we're going to study one religion and only one, we're going to look at their leaders and put them on a list—only them—and you are going to talk about what's orthodox practice and what's unorthodox, then you are putting extra scrutiny on that religion," he said.

 

 

The amendment comes amid a recent spate of laws targeting Muslims, most notably Trump's travel ban on six Muslim-majority nations. Critics argue that this furthers a "clash of civilizations" narrative, only adding kerosene to fire stoked by extremeists like ISIS, giving them a compelling "them vs. us" narrative to recruit new followers.

 

 

Franks insists the law doesn't target Muslims unfairly, but merely addresses a potent national security issue. "Right now," he told Politico, "there is a certain spectrum within the Islamist world that is at the root of the ideological impulse for terrorism. Ironically, Muslims are the prime targets of these groups. To suggest that this is anti-Muslim is a fallacy, and I think that anyone who really understands it knows that."