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Op-Ed

Jumpstarting community-led initiatives to counter violent extremism

Since 9/11, Americans have debated different approaches to preventing violent extremism in the United States. These debates have often yielded one-sided approaches emphasizing surveillance or condemnations of violence, but these approaches fail to address the problems at its roots. This Action Group will build upon a nascent, community-led initiative to counter violent extremism (CVE) in the United States. The initiative, called Safe Spaces, was developed by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) to empower local Muslim communities to address the needs of individuals at all stages of the path to violent extremism. At the core of Safe Spaces is the “Prevention, Intervention, Ejection” model, which provides a clear conceptual framework for CVE practitioners, helping them understand the issues that push and pull individuals along a pathway to violence. To achieve the initiative’s goals, the Action Group will focus on fine-tuning the Safe Spaces strategy, assessing its implementation plan, suggesting new partnerships, and reviewing its methods of measuring and evaluating success. The Action Group also hopes to benefit from the perspectives of international CVE experts and practitioners with experience in grassroots community-level interventions. The Action Group will help to ensure the successful launch of Safe Spaces pilot projects in multiple sites in the United States by the end of 2015.

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