Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will begin holding hearings Thursday on "the extent of the radicalization of American Muslims." Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has characterized the hearings as "a witch hunt." Are they?
King also has said he believes the "self-radicalization" of American Muslims represents "a very small minority" of the overall community. What are the potential consequences of singling out one religious group?
My concern is that the hearing failed to recognize that radicalism is not limited to Islam, nor are most Muslims radical. If this hearing were part of a series of hearings on radicalism it would have be justified; but as an isolated inquiry, it was not.
Posted by David Saperstein, on March 11, 2011 10:45 AM
Today, Americans have a choice: Will we repeat the disastrous mistakes of the past? Or will we embrace American Muslims as positive contributors the economic, political, and social life of our country?
Homegrown terrorism - of whatever stripe - is a serious issue that deserves serious attention. But a Congressional hearing singling out one religious community and framed by vague and unsubstantiated charges against the leadership of that community is both wrongheaded and dangerous.
Posted by Charles C. Haynes, on March 8, 2011 1:37 PM
A poll, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, reveals that while a majority (56%) of the public may think the hearings are a good idea, they don't see eye-to-eye with Rep. King on his justifications for the hearings.
Posted by Robert P. Jones, on March 8, 2011 9:33 AM
I understand the desire to investigate religious extremism, but these hearings are a gross affront to our freedoms and our principles. Instead of having "Muslim radicalization" hearings, I want to propose something truly radical: let's promote voices of inclusion instead of drumming up unwarranted suspicion and inciting fear.
Perhaps he could hold hearings on whether hatred and stereotyping by pandering politicians who focus on guilt by association might be making the rest of us both more fearful and less safe--in other words, hold a hearing on King himself.
Posted by Herb Silverman, on March 7, 2011 12:13 PM
I have no objection, in principle, to a hearing that investigates an alleged radicalization of any religion if there is sufficient evidence that some citizens are abusing the tenets of that religion as a cover for violent activity.
Posted by Fr. Frank Pavone, on March 7, 2011 11:22 AM
By vilifying the entire Muslim American community in both the letter and spirit of his upcoming hearings, Congressman Peter King and his supporters could make life palpably worse for Sikhs and Muslims in this country, and give needless propaganda points to terrorists, in ways that fatally undermine homeland security.
Posted by Rajdeep Singh, on March 7, 2011 10:38 AM
When a member of the government announces that an entire religious tradition is under suspicion the effect is not to foster trust and fidelity. Rather it feeds into the stereotype in the Muslim world that America is opposed to the Islamic tradition as a whole.