White House Promotes Engagement Strategy Ahead Of ‘Muslim Radicalization’ Hearings

March 8, 2011 11:34 a.m.

The White House says its finalizing a strategy to combat violent extremism in America, and is speaking publicly about it just a few days before Rep. Peter King (R-NY) holds hearings on “Muslim radicalization.” (On Sunday, in a move The New York Times called “no accident,” White House Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough gave a speech at a Muslim center in Virginia, laying out the administration’s efforts.)The strategy, according to the White House, includes working to better understand how people become radicalized, expanding engagement with communities targeted by terrorist recruiters, increasing support to those targeted communities, more coordination with authorities on the state and local level and, finally, improving the administration’s own communication about the threat of local extremism.

“We must see the threat clearly, resist myths and misperceptions and move forward together as one nation,” White House Spokesman Nick Shapiro told TPM in a statement.

Shapiro echoed both President Obama and McDonough by calling Muslim Americans “part of the solution.”

“Muslim Americans are not part of the problem, they’re part of the solution and have repeatedly condemned terrorism and forged partnerships at the local, state and federal level to help prevent violent extremism and terrorist attacks,” Shapiro wrote.

King has used very different language to defend his hearings, and has rejected calls to expand their focus to include other religious groups.

“The threat is coming from the Muslim community,” King told the Times this weekend, “the radicalization attempts are directed at the Muslim community. Why should I investigate other communities?”

A group of over 50 progressive organizations sent a letter to King on Tuesday, raising concerns that the hearings will “promote the demonization and scapegoating of millions of American Muslims.”

Addressing King’s hearings, Shapiro said only that “we welcome Congressional interest.”

“This is about our long-term strategy and what works, based on evidence and careful consideration,” he wrote. “I think our view of the issue was clear in the speech, and we look forward to partnering with communities, the American public, and Congress to address this challenge.”

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