by Talat Hamdani
December 23rd, 2010
“What’s Radicalizing American Muslims?”asks Peter King, (Newsday – December 19, 2010). Mr. King, the U.S. Representative for New York’s 3rd Congressional district, who will take the reins as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee next year, announced his plans to investigate Muslim Americans last week and to hold hearings on the subject when the House re-convenes in January, 2011. In his Newsday article he alleges that no moderate Muslims have spoken out against terrorists, “no moral outrage or condemnation.” He cites his own record of working with the Muslim community in his district and his support for President Bill Clinton’s military offensives in Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1998. We do not doubt he is an honorable man.
Mr. King’s planned hearings on Muslim communities are reminiscent of the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s. His accusations bear no basis in reality. For instance, since 2002, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has clearly condemned violence with open letters in major newspapers both local and national, announcements on TV and radio and worked with Mosques around the country to develop interfaith forums. In addition to specific campaigns, they have compiled a 68 page document showing all of the condemnations of terrorism after September 11th, 2001. It is unfortunate Mr. King missed all that. But, like Senator McCarthy, Mr. King is a true patriot.
The results of a study done by David Schanzer, Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke U., Charles Kurzman, U of N.C., Chapel Hill and Ebrahim Moosa of Duke U., called AntiTerror Lessons of Muslim Americans, identified characteristics and practices of Muslim American Communities that are preventing radicalization and violence.
- Public and private denunciations of terrorism and violence.
- Self policing by confronting individuals, preventing radicals from preaching in mosques, working with law enforcement and developing youth programs to address concerns that might lead to radical behavior.
- Community building to reduce isolation of Muslims.
- Political engagement which channels grievances into democratic forums and integrates Muslim Americans into the American mainstream.
The recommendations of the study can be found at thinkprogress.org.
Mr. King seems to have overlooked it, although he is a knowledgeable man.
In February of 2003, Dr. Muqtedar Khan, Director of International Studies at Adrian College, MI, and a member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists at the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy said, “I would rather live in America under Ashcroft and Bush at their worst, than in any Islamic state established by ignorant, intolerant and murderous punks like you and Mullah Omar at their best.” Mr. King in his claim that moderate Muslims have not spoken out against violence and terrorism seems to have overlooked this statement directed at Osama Bin Laden. Although Mr. King is “immersed in attempting to unravel the radical Islamic threat to our nation and our civilization,” this one got by him. But we know he is an honest and forthright man.
In addition, we know that the so-called “Christmas bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from Nigeria, was turned in by his own father. His father is a “moderate Muslim.” We know that the Times Square bomb was first reported by a Muslim merchant, Aloune Niass. No radical extremist is he. According to FBI Director Mueller, the American Muslim Community is co-operating with the FBI and since 911, ten terror plots have been foiled with their help. The case of undercover FBI agent, Craig Montielh, in Irvine, California, is a case where the Muslim community took out a court order of protection against him. He is suing FBI for entrapment of Muslim American. In his article, What Patriotism Is and Is Not, Michael Winship (TruthOut, July 3, 2008) states, “It is an unmistakable lesson of history that when one group of people starts to see another group of people as ‘other’ or as ‘different,’ as ‘undeserving,’ as ‘inferior,’ ill treatment inevitably follows.”
The lessons of history must be learned lest we repeat the mistakes of the past — horrors still vivid in the memories of many of us, even of Mr. King. The nation has to heal. Mr. King’s actions reek of suspicion, revenge and further divide our country. We hope he reconsiders his misguided undertaking and reaches out to those in the Muslim community working to bridge the divide and form a true interfaith coalition for peace.