Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson stressed at the Countering Violent Extremism summit this morning that “we in the administration and the government should give voice to the plight of Muslims living in this country and the discrimination that they face.”
Johnson said he is “personally committed to speak out about the situation that very often people in the Muslim community in this country face; the fact that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and that the Islamic faith is one about peace and brotherhood.”
“For our part, we — we ask something of you, of members of the community,” he said. “First of all, I’ve heard over and over again, and this is where we have to depend upon people in the community, that we need to develop the counter-narrative. We’ve heard that over and over now. And we know that there are a number of those who have undertaken to do this. We need to take that to the next level, developing the counter- narrative.”
“Also in our communities and the communities we engage, we ask that we all have a stake. So one of the themes of this conference which fits right in with that is our communities, our responsibility, our shared future. And that is very much part of the message that we like to bring when we go to places like L.A., Boston, Minneapolis. Our communities, our responsibility, our shared future.”
The administration has faced criticism from Islamic groups that its pilot programs to counter violent extremists have disproportionately singled out Muslim communities.
“And so one of the things I like to say is that we all have a stake. It’s our public safety. It’s our homeland security. It’s our country. And so, ‘if you see something, say something’ really does have to be more than a slogan. Public engagement, public awareness in our homeland security public safety efforts is becoming all the more crucial, given how our challenges in homeland security are evolving,” Johnson continued.
“And so we go to city after city, community after community to deliver this message and to build trust and to build a partnership with people like you in this room… We want to hear from those represented in this room about best practices.”
Johnson also took a dig at the Senate for not yet passing funding for his department, which expires at the end of this month. Democrats have blocked a bill from coming to the floor that defunds Obama’s immigration actions.
“We’re unable to engage in new starts, new initiatives for spending. New initiatives, new spending for border security. We still need to pay for the enhanced border security that we put in place last summer,” he said. “We are unable to enhance border security, to strengthen border security.”