UNC Muslim Students Association filed a petition that asked the University to reject a $867,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism program.
The grant, which was received by communications professors Cori Dauber and Mark Robinson, will “fund a project to create a series of sophisticated videos and other materials to counteract jihadist propaganda that targets young people,” said a February press release from UNC.
Senior writer Brinley Lowe asked Anna Bigelow, an N.C. State University professor of religious studies with a specialization in Islam, about her opinion on the grant.
The Daily Tar Heel: What do you know about the the Countering Violent Extremism program?
Anna Bigelow: (The Countering Violent Extremism program) is a large rubric that is framed as being about broader issues of violent extremism in society, but is actually quite clearly targeting the Muslim community with some lip service to right-wing groups and other domestic terrorism.
DTH: When you read over the grant, what were your impressions?
AB: Largely their focus is on Muslim extremism, but not a one of (the experts) is actually an expert in Islam, which is particularly striking given that UNC in particular, but the Triangle in general, has one of the strongest communities of scholars of Islam that one could hope to find pretty much anywhere in the United States.
It’s truly a glaring oversight either not to have attempted to partner with any of these individuals or to have attempted and been refused.
DTH: Is the Countering Violent Extremism program known for being problematic and controversial?