Washington, DC – Seeking critical information on highly controversial programs, Muslim Advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today filed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to compel eight government agencies to release information on so-called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs operating in Illinois. CVE programs are funded with federal grants and purport to identify the individuals in their community “at risk” of radicalization and violence. As civil rights groups have pointed out, these programs unfairly target and discriminate against Muslim groups, foster a culture of distrust between the community and law enforcement, and chill the fundamental rights of American Muslims by subjecting them to heightened surveillance.
Though officials have alleged that CVE programs are focused on people of all faiths, these programs have been repeatedly used to target the American Muslim community. And shortly after taking office, President Trump publicly expressed his desire for the program to focus solely on Muslims, renewing concerns amongst civil rights groups about misuse of these programs.
Click below to read the FOIAs filed with:
- Chicago Police Department
- Department of Homeland Security
- Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- Illinois State Police
- Chicago OEMC
- University of Illinois
“CVE programs have repeatedly targeted the American Muslim community, and the government needs to be more transparent about how these programs are really being implemented - particularly at a time when the American Muslim community is already under heightened attack,” said Juvaria Khan, Staff Attorney for Muslim Advocates. “American Muslims have a right to know how this program is affecting their day-to-day lives.”
”Government should not target people for increased attention by law enforcement simply on the basis of their faith,” said Kathy Hunt Muse, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Illinois. “CVE programs’ focus on Muslims have raised this specter. We need to know how these programs are being implemented in Illinois.”
In September 2017, the Brennan Center for Justice and 50 other organizations, including the ACLU, Muslim Advocates, NAACP, and Arab American Institute, authored a petition to prevent further expansion of Countering Violent Extremism.
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.