Islamist and Other Groups Write Boehner and Pelosi Objecting to King Hearings on Muslim Radicalism
February 4, 2011
MIM: Below the letter written by American Islamist groups and others to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi trying to change the focus of the hearings on Islamist terrorism being planned by Congressman Peter King who is the Chair of the Committee on Homeland Security.
The Honorable John Boehner
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi:
The undersigned community organizations and groups concerned about civil and human rights and national security strongly object to the hearings on violent extremism recently announced by the Chair of the Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Peter King. Chairman King has characterized the hearings, tentatively scheduled for February 2011, as focusing exclusively on the "radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism."1 If Chairman King proceeds with these hearings, please urge him to address all forms of violence motivated by extremist beliefs and to do so in a full, fair, and objective way.
The hearings planned by Chairman King, however, are inconsistent with this vision of America. Singling out a group of Americans for government scrutiny based on their faith is divisive and wrong. These hearings will inevitably examine activities protected by the First Amendment, an affront to fundamental freedoms upon which our country was founded. It harkens back to hearings held in the 1950s by then-U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy. That dark chapter in our history taught us that Congress has a solemn duty to wield its investigatory power responsibly.
In the course of justifying the focus of the hearings, Chairman King has made broad and unsubstantiated assertions about the American Muslim community. For example, he continues to perpetuate the myth that 80% of mosques in America are run by extremists,2 implying that they are hotbeds of extremism. To the contrary, experts have concluded that mosque attendance is a significant factor in the prevention of extremism.3 In addition, during a recent interview, Chairman King made a statement insinuating that American Muslims are not American:
"When a war begins, we're all Americans. But in this case, this is not the
If Chairman King is suggesting that American Muslims are somehow less American – simply by virtue of their faith – then that is an affront to all Americans.
Furthermore, a hearing that demonizes the American Muslim community will not go unnoticed by Muslims around the world and will contribute to perceptions of how the U.S. government treats Muslims. Equal treatment and respect for all faiths are among our nation's greatest strengths and are essential to a free and just society.
Our nation faces serious threats, both foreign and domestic. Violence motivated by extremist beliefs is not committed by members of one racial, religious, or political group. The Committee on Homeland Security should focus on keeping us safe, rather than engaging in fearmongering and divisive rhetoric that only weakens the fabric of our nation and distracts us from actual threats.
We strongly urge you to object to the hearings in their current form. If Chairman King wishes to address violent extremism, then we hope you will ensure that he examines violence motivated by extremist beliefs, in all its forms, in a full, fair and objective way. The hearings should proceed from a clear understanding that individuals are responsible for their actions, not entire communities.
Thank you for your attention to the issues raised in this letter. We look forward to hearing from you.
cc: The Honorable Peter King
1 Peter King, What's Radicalizing Muslim Americans?, Newsday, December 17, 2010.
2 The Laura Ingraham Show, January 24, 2011.
3 See David Schanzer, Charles Kurzman, Ebrahim Moosa, Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim Americans, Duke University, January 6, 2010, at 28-29.
4 Secure Freedom Radio With Frank Gaffney, January 6, 2011.