King Hearing Serves As ‘Political Circus,’ Not Problem Solving

March 10, 2011

Today, the Muslim Public Affairs Council called Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) hearing on “radicalization in the American Muslim community” a “squandered opportunity for a critical conversation on violent extremism,” which opted for a political circus over genuine problem solving. 

SEE: Emotions Fly at Controversial Hearings on Muslim Americans” (CNN)

“Congressman King dropped the ball as Homeland Security Committee Chairman,” said Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC President. “Today’s hearings did nothing to solve the problem of violent extremism. Instead, he targeted an entire population of Americans and tried to scapegoat them as the source of problem without providing any credible evidence.”

An unprecedented number of interfaith organizations and leaders from every religious denomination in America stood together in recent weeks with a united voice to oppose the flawed premise of King’s hearing, which seeks to divide Americans on the basis of their faith. Newspapers editorial boards, dozens of Congress members and a slew of law enforcement officials from coast to coast have all publicly rejected King’s approach. 

King’s hearing failed to prove his two central arguments: that Muslims are not cooperating with law enforcement and that there is a widespread problem of radicalization within Muslim American communities.

Invited to testify by ranking member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) provided moving testimony demonstrating robust government and law enforcement partnerships with the Muslim American community and the contributing role of Muslim Americans in cities across country.

Several lawmakers and national security experts rejected King's approach as bad policy, bad law enforcement and bad for counter terrorism.

“In America, we are obligated to protect all citizens and their respective religions, and to effectively detect and find extremists,” Baca said. “Police leaders must have the trust and understanding of all communities who are represented in their jurisdictions. The Muslim community is no less or more important than others as no one can predict with complete accuracy who or what will pose the next threat against our nation. Simply put, police need public participation, and to accomplish that, strategies such as public-trust policing need to be a priority in our nation.”

Baca went on to quote MPAC’s “Post 9/11 Terrorism Database.” The database’s most recent data indicates there have been 80 total plots by U.S.-originated non-Muslim perpetrators against the United States since 9/11. In comparison, there have been 45 total plots by U.S. and foreign-originated Muslim perpetrators since 9/11.

“It is true that specific individuals, including some who are Muslims, are violent extremists,” Ellison said. “However, these are individuals -- but not entire communities. Individuals like Anwar Al-Awlaqi, Faisal Shahzad, and Nidal Hasan do not represent the Muslim American community. When their violent actions are associated with an entire community, then blame is assigned to a whole group. This is the very heart of stereotyping and scapegoating, which is counter-productive.”

Ellison became tearful as he described how Muslim Americans were among the 9/11 victims as well as being first responders. He then went onto to cite MPAC’s database, as well as a Duke University Triangle Center on Terrorism that found that 40 percent of domestic terror plots has been prevented with the aid of the Muslim American community.

Since its inception more than two decades ago, MPAC has studied the plague of violent extremism and has worked with policy makers and law enforcement officials to create effective solutions that promote national security and protect civil rights for all Americans.



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