Congressman used and abused Muslim supporters
Before King declared “US mosques are training grounds for extremists,” the New York Representative spent years campaigning and fundraising at the Islamic Center on Long Island.
On Fridays, a familiar sound of worship echoes from the Islamic center of Long Island.
It is a place of prayer, education and community service for many of 70 thousand Muslims living there. It is also a place where US Congressman Peter King spent years building bridges with American voters.
During his early days as Congressman, King gave lectures and held book signings at the Islamic Center on Long Island. When the prayer hall officially opened in 1993, Mr. King served as the main guest of honor.
“He has attended our weddings also and we have been to his office many times. Whatever we needed help with,” said Habeeb Ahmed, the Chairman of the Islamic Center of Long Island.
Today, Congressman King who also serves as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has labeled the same mosque a hotbed for extremism that should be put under surveillance. King has announced congressional hearings on alleged hidden radicalism among American-Muslims and mosques. Drastic measures which have ushered in a cloud of fear over this community.
“He generalized and generalized in a very bad way and in a way that will not serve this issue of America’s welfare even outside of the United States,” said Mamdouh Farid, a Muslim-American living in King’s district.
“It has been very disturbing to us especially when the Muslim population in the Long Island community is growing substantially. We’re looking for support,” said Zainab Nasser, a Muslim-American who used to fundraise for Congressman King.
The Islamic Center of Long Island sits just outside the boundaries of Congressman King’s 3rd congressional district. Many voters, who once fundraised for King, now fear the US representative may be the strongest force fueling the flames of Islamophobia in America.
“Safety and security of my community is my biggest concern and trying to create trouble where there is no trouble to be made,” remarked Ahmed. “Why are we doing these things?”
Congressman King has said that most Muslim leaders in the US aren’t cooperating with authorities. Yet no member of Long Island center has ever been accused of terrorism. Muslim-Americans on Long Island say they’re appalled that man the politician they once rallied behind is currently targeting them based on their religious belief.
“There are extremists in every community and every religion. Why just Islam? What does he have to gain from it? Either a personal vendetta or something to gain in the politics,” said Naishat Ali, a Muslim-American who also used to fundraise for Congressman King.
“There’s a lot of fear. People are really angry, anxious; disturbed because the burden falls on our shoulders to really explain our faith,” said Yasmin Wasti, a Muslim-American and former supporter of Congressman King.
Since September 11th, 2001, King hasn’t stepped one foot inside the Islamic Center of Long Island.
Although ICLI representatives unanimously condemned the tragic event, King cut all ties with the institution after two members were quoted denying Muslim involvement and linking Israel to the 9/11 attacks.