MPAC Uniting Americans to Confront All Forms of Extremism

March 4, 2011


March 10 will go down in our country's history as a day when yet another member of Congress was able to put an entire segment of the American population under a political spotlight using a congressional hearing. On that day, Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) will hold a highly controversial hearing titled "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response."

Today, The Hill published MPAC's Government and Policy Analyst Alejandro J. Beutel's op-ed, "Partnership Not Profiling," in which he argues that the Muslim American community has worked with law enforcement to help prevent crimes such as the Times Square car bomb plot, the Washington, DC, “Metro plot” and the Christmas Tree lighting attempted attack in Portland, OR.

>From the beginning, MPAC has been loud and clear that protecting our nation should not be made into an ideological issue. All Americans have the right to contribute and enrich our country. Muslim Americans are aware there is a problem of extremism, but it is an isolated cancer not a pandemic, as King has tried to argue.

On Feb. 7, MPAC hosted a briefing, "Confrontation or Partnership: Muslims, Law Enforcement and National Security in a Post 9/11 Era," where speakers L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, CNN National Security Expert Peter Bergen, former Clinton and Bush National Security Council official Roger Cressey and Beutel spoke about the importance of ensuring that the Muslim American community is a partner in this challenge rather than a suspect, as well as the community's efforts to thwart threats to our country.

"I don't know what King is hearing or who he is hearing from," said Baca at the briefing. "We're with [Muslim Americans] all the time. If King 'has evidence of noncooperation,' he should bring it forward."

Following the briefing on Feb. 8, MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati and ISNA President Imam Mohamed Majid met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the Homeland Security Advisory Council to discuss homeland security and the work of faith-based organizations.

Since that MPAC briefing, Baca has become one of the loudest proponents for the Muslim American community, speaking to many media outlets and now being invited as a witness to testify at the Congressional hearing next week.

To this affect, in 2009, Beutel published, and has continuously updated, "The Post-9/11 Terrorism Database." The first of its kind done by a Muslim American organization, the database tracks plots by Muslim and non-Muslim violent extremists against the United States and has found that Muslim communities helped law enforcement prevent 75 percent of all Al-Qaeda related plots threatening the U.S. since December 2009. This highlights the importance of partnering with local citizens through good relations and community-oriented policing.

"Since 9/11, four out of 10 al-Qaeda plots have been foiled with the assistance of the Muslim community," Beutel said. "Within the past year, that number has spiked to 75 percent."

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MA), the former head of the House Homeland Security Committee, recently publicly challenged King to focus on all forms of extremism, and Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) published an op-ed citing his own experiences as a Japanese American interned along with his family during World War II and underscoring the danger of suspecting a whole community especially during a time of conflict.

MPAC has been working with members of Congress, government officials, law enforcement agencies, civic and interfaith groups and local communities to ensure that the voices of reason and expertise are heard around this issue. We have been empowering local communities with tools to ensure they understand the hearings and are prepared to have a dialogue with media professionals, elected officials and their fellow citizens.

In early February, MPAC along with Muslim Advocates and 49 other faith, civil rights and human rights organizations sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking them to object to the hearings which will target millions of Muslim Americans.

Earlier this week, MPAC asked its constituents to call their members of Congress urging them to sign onto a letter sponsored by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) that calls on King to reconsider the scope of the upcoming "radicalization" hearings.

On Wednesday, MPAC joined The Arab American Institute hosted another briefing, to hold a Capitol Hill briefing on "Islamophobia: A Challenge to American Pluralism." The briefing examined how Islamophobia alienates and ostracizes the Muslim American community, as well as how it has become a socially-permissible tool for politicians and media pundits.

And just today, MPAC met with King's staffers to discuss our work relating to preventing and countering violent extremism, and to provide feedback from Muslim American communities around the country about the problematic direction and scope of the hearings.

Our efforts have only been strengthened by the many groups that have come together to ensure the true voices of Americans stand out on this issue and not the voice of the politically-motivated agenda of one member of Congress and a cottage industry which seeks to profit from fear and the marginalization of the Muslim American community.

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