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Ranking Democrats confront “Muslim Radicalization” hearing

Published: 26/06/2012 08:28:00 AM GMT
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Washington: The lawmakers of the House have been divided on the party lines at a hearing which was held after Muslim responses to earlier hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims.

By Farhan Iqbal

Washington: The lawmakers of the House have been divided on the party lines at a hearing which was held after Muslim responses to earlier hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims.

The Republicans overshadowed the testimonies of four witnesses while defending the four previous hearings and Democrats who questioned whether they were misguided or actually harmful to American Muslims.

The lawmakers argued both sides of the same statistics and relied heavily on narrations as they were short on new data but long on rhetoric.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., stated, “The overwhelming majority of American Muslims are outstanding Americans, yet the reality is that the Islamist terror threat comes from the community.”

He made a report public on key findings by the committee which includes the severity of the threat of radicalized American Muslims to homeland security, the presence of Al-Qaeda recruitment in the country especially in prisons and military communities.

According to the findings, there is a lack of cooperation between American Muslims and law enforcement to “confront the Islamist ideology driving radicalization.”

Meanwhile, the ranking Democratic member, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., expressed hope that the hearings would not increase hate crimes or religious profiling. He also showed his concerns as the USA is seen abroad as a nation at war with Islam.

“None of the three majority witnesses have law enforcement experience and all support the New York Police Department's controversial surveillance program,” Thompson’s office noted.

A group of American Muslims filed the first lawsuit challenging the NYPD's program earlier this month which they said violates their constitutional rights of free speech, religion, assembly and due process.

Three of the four witnesses, all Muslims, include the President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, M. Zuhdi Jasser; a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Islamic culture instructor to the U.S. military, Asra Nomani and a physician and political and religious writer, Qanta A.A. Ahmed.

They all supported the hearings and said they had opened up a much-needed dialogue within their community.

Qanta A. A. Ahmed said in the hearings, “What is so important about these hearings and why we actually need a synopsis of the hearings is (that) the distinction between Islam and Islamism has been lost in public discourse.”

The Co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, Faiza Patel, said, “The current model of investigating terrorist threats is ineffective because it often equates Muslim piety with extremism.”

Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Mich., recorded, “These hearings are not an assault against Islam. It's (an) assault against all Americans, especially Asian Americans.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations of King's first four hearings on Islamic radicalization determined that the chairman had “failed to produce the promised evidence to support his stigmatization of America's Muslims.”

“King's record of leveling unsubstantiated allegations and biased attacks on the Muslim community and habit of naming people with records of anti-Muslim bias as potential witnesses and information sources denies him any current credibility in discussions about American Muslims and homeland security,” the group concluded.

Peter King, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman