by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Less than a week before Omar Mateen walked into an Orlando gay club and killed or wounded more than 100 people, the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) submitted its Countering Violent Extremism report to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson. The report instructs the DHS not to use any language that might be “disrespectful” to Muslims, including (but not limited to) the words “jihad,” “sharia” and “takfir.”
The report was crafted by an HSAC subcommittee that Secretary Johnson created in November 2015. The head of that subcommittee, Farah Pandith, was appointed by Johnson in May 2015. The subcommittee published the report on June 9.
In addition to combatting violent extremism by reaching out to “gender diverse” Americans and teaching youth “appropriate online etiquette,” the report recommends that the DHS “avoid stigmatizing specific communities.”
The report urges DHS officials to “Reject religiously-charged terminology and problematic positioning by using plain meaning American English.”
For example, the report says the DHS should be “using American English instead of religious, legal and cultural terms like ‘jihad,’ ‘sharia,’ ‘takfir’ or ‘umma.’”
The report acknowledges that, “There is a disagreement among scholars, government officials, and activists about the right lexicon to use around the issues of violent extremism.”