With more than 20 Republicans joining Democrats, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected an amendment that would identify the “Islamic religious doctrines, concepts or schools of thought” that could be used by terrorist groups.
The amendment, drafted by House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., was defeated Friday by a 208 to 217 vote.
It called for the Pentagon to identify Islamic leaders who preach peaceful beliefs versus those who espouse extremist views, Politico reported.
Robert Spencer, the author of numerous books on Islam and the director of Jihad Watch, wrote that the bill’s defeat was a demonstration of the unwillingness of Congress to confront the issue honestly.
He said “choosing denial and willful ignorance instead of knowledge of the motivating ideology of the jihadis who have vowed to destroy us” is “just asking to be defeated.”
Spencer pointed to the complaint of Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress, that the bill would put “extra scrutiny” on Islam.
Spencer agreed that would be the case. But he argued there’s a reason for it: “30,000 jihad attacks committed in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings since September 11, 2001.”
“No one religion has anything approaching that kind of record of death and destruction,” he said. “So why shouldn’t we put extra scrutiny on that religion?”
Ellison said: “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.”
Ellison also contended the law would abridge the free exercise of a particular religion.
But Spencer argued that “the free exercise of any religion is not a license to break existing laws.”
“The free exercise of religion is not a free pass to commit treason or subversion or sedition,” he said.
The amendment would have required the Defense Department to conduct “strategic assessments of the use of violent or unorthodox Islamic religious doctrine to support extremist or terrorist messaging and justification.”
“There is nothing ‘unorthodox’ about jihad violence in Islamic law and doctrine,” Spencer said. “But even this tepid recommendation was too much for the short-sighted 217 cowards of the House, who have passed up an opportunity to strengthen our defense against the global jihad.”
Along with Muslim interest groups, the proposal was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said it would unfairly target Muslims.
Ellison tweeted after the amendment’s defeat: “Good happens – even in Congress! Franks Amendment singling out Muslims rejected; Congress declines to ‘abridge free exercise’ of religion.”
Politico reported Franks said he would work with his colleagues to try to modify the amendment so it will pass eventually.
“Right now, there is a certain spectrum within the Islamist world that is at the root of the ideological impulse for terrorism,” Franks said. “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.”
The congressman said he and his colleagues have “worked very hard to protect the religious freedom for everybody.” he said.
“But it is important that we empower America to identify those heroic Muslims within the world that will help us begin to delegitimize this ideology of global jihad,” he said.
The amendment, Politico said, would require the Defense Department to conduct “strategic assessments of the use of violent or unorthodox Islamic religious doctrine to support extremist or terrorist messaging and justification.”
It also asks Pentagon officials for “recommendations for identifying key thought leaders or proponents.”
WND reported last month that despite signs that the new Trump administration intends to reform a politically correct national security policy, euphemistically called Countering Violent Extremism, and begin naming the enemy, the rhetoric of Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly suggests the government’s fundamental assumptions about the threat haven’t changed.
Kelly told the House Homeland Security Committee in June 22 that the perpetrators of attacks during the Islamic month of Ramadan have “corrupted” Islam, and he suggested Christian and Jewish beliefs are also causing terrorism, Breitbart reported.
“As far as Ramadan goes, you know, first of all, the uptick in violence and activities is done by a very, very small percentage of people who have just corrupted the whole concept of Islam as a religion; but it is what it is,” Kelly told the chairman of the committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
Similarly, President Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, told his staff in February that Muslims who commit terrorist acts are “perverting their religion,” the New York Times reported, citing people at the meeting.
McMaster said the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic.”
The Times quote William McCants, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, saying there is “a deep hunger for McMaster’s view in the interagency,” referring to the process by which the State Department, Pentagon and other agencies funnel recommendations through the National Security Council.
In his speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month to Muslim political leaders, President Trump appeared to distance himself from campaign rhetoric that suggested Islam itself is the problem.
“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it,” the president said.
DHS denies funding to Islamic group
There are indications, however, that DHS policy is changing. The department recently ruled the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council – a group founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood – will not receive the $393,800 Countering Violent Extremism grant approved by Obama’s DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, on Jan. 13, days before Johnson left office, reported the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The change came after “DHS utilized its discretion to consider other factors and information when reviewing applicants,” a spokeswoman said in an email to IPT.
“The Department considered whether applicants for CVE awards would partner with law enforcement, had a strong basis of prior experience in countering violent extremism, had a history of prior efforts to implement prevention programs targeting violent extremism, and were viable to continue after the end of the award period.”