President Barack Obama met on Wednesday (Feb 4, 2015) at the White House with 14 Muslim Americans for an hour-long discussion about civil rights, anti-Muslim bias and extremism.
Among the topics of discussion were the community's efforts and partnerships with the Administration on a range of domestic issues such as the Affordable Care Act, issues of anti-Muslim violence and discrimination, the 21st Century Policing Task Force, and the upcoming White House Summit on Countering Violence Extremism, according to a statement from the White House.
"The president reiterated his administration's commitment to safeguarding civil rights through hate crimes prosecutions and civil enforcement actions," the White House said adding: The president stressed the need to continue countering ISIS "and other groups that commit horrific acts of violence, purportedly in the name of Islam."
"Noting the remarkable contributions of Muslim Americans to our country, the President also encouraged the participants to remain civically engaged in their communities, and told them that he looked forward to seeking additional opportunities to continue the discussion of these and other issues."
President Barack Obama quietly met with a group of Muslim political activists in the White House to get them to support the Democrats' political machine, The Daily Caller reported under the headline " Obama Seeks Alliance With Islamic Groups."
"The meeting didn't focus on U.S. foreign policy or Islamic jihadi attacks. Instead, it was Obama's outreach to a growing Democratic-affiliated political constituency, similar to other meeting with environmental, African-American or Latino political groups," added The Daily Caller.
Also discussed at the hour-long White House meeting was a program by the Obama administration to counter radicalization by working with Muslim Americans in cities with sizable Muslim populations, the Detroit Free Press reported.
It was the first time the president has held a round-table meeting with Muslim-American leaders. According to Detroit Free, the President had round-table discussions in the White House with African-American, Jewish-American and labor leaders, but never Muslim-American advocates.
The Hill said the administration has launched a series of pilot programs in cities with large Muslim populations in a bid to thwart homegrown extremists. The White House is particularly concerned about the possibility of radicalized individuals traveling to the Middle East for training with ISIS or similar terror groups, and then returning home to carry out attacks.
Obama also used the closed-press meeting to discuss the task force he launched in the aftermath of grand jury decisions not to charge police officers involved in the deaths of unarmed suspects in Ferguson and Staten Island, the Hill reported.
Bloomberg, the Obama administration is reaching out to American Muslim leaders
as it tries to stem extremism in the U.S. while heading off a domestic backlash
against mainstream Islam over atrocities committed by Islamic State.
The meeting was organized by Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates. She worked with Obama's deputy for Muslim outreach, George Selim, to set up the meeting.
Before the meeting, White House statements described the meeting as outreach to a political constituency. "What the president is hoping to do is to have a broader conversation about the wide range of issues that are of importance to the Muslim American community." spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday, before the meeting took place. "I would expect a robust discussion on a lot of the kind of middle-class economics"the upcoming deadline for the Affordable Care Act," he said.
The Detroit Free Press said Muslim-American leaders at the meeting were told not to talk afterward to the news media about what Obama said during the discussion.
"It was a very frank and candid exchange," Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, who attended the session told the Free Press of Dearborn, Michigan. "I commend the president for sitting down and hearing the hopes and dreams of American Muslims."
Khera said "the timing of the meeting couldn't have been better" because in recent weeks, a growing number of people have attacked Islam and Muslims in the West, saying they pose a threat. After the terror attacks in France, some have again claimed that cities like Dearborn with big Muslim populations are under sharia, Islamic law, or have no-go zones. This week's revelation that ISIS had burned alive a captured Jordian military pilot has also stoked some anti-Muslim sentiment.