Tears and fears dominate King’s Muslim hearings
The hearings were met with beefed up security, dozens of cameras and emotional testimony.
“We must stop these extremist invaders from raping the mind of these American citizens,” Marvin Bledsoe testified.
King’s hearings have received extensive media coverage since they were first announced. But some say that reporters, like King himself, have failed to look at the underlying causes of Muslim radicalization in the United States and the role that American foreign policy in the Arab world has played in generating those feelings.
“As soon as they take a kick at the knife that’s slaughtering, they’re accused of being violent when the violent one is the us invading Iraq and Afghanistan, the US empire,” said Younus Abdullah Muhammad, chief analyst for Muslimrevolution.com.
But others on and off Capitol Hill praised King for braving the political correctness firestorm the hearings ignited before they even began.
“Stop running around and looking to be a victim, stop looking to be offended,” said Seton Motley, president of Less Government. “The expression that has come up is Sharia creep or Islam creep. Again, if you come to this country, you come for everything it offers; there is kind of a reciprocation there. You come to ingratiate and immerse yourself in what America is--and America isn't footbaths.”
But even Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, the only law enforcement witness called by King, was skeptical of the New York Republican’s accusations of Muslims’ lack of cooperation with law enforcement.
“When I made critical outreach to Muslims after 9/11, I was overwhelmed by the number of Muslims who, while under threat from misinformed sources, were ready and willing to connect with law enforcement to help keep the peace,” testified Baca.
Muslim Americans have said that they see King’s accusations as efforts to divide their communities, and spread the kind of fear and mistrust in law enforcement the hearings were designed to combat.
“All this has done has stoked further hatred. I know Muslims who don't go to their mosques because they’re afraid of the FBI,” said Seema Jilani, a Muslim-American journalist and physician. “I don’t see why it’s become my personal responsibility to police this community, isn’t it enough that I’m a law abiding physician and that I contribute to society?”
King expects this to be the first in a series of hearings. He did not set a date for the next one, telling reporters it will take place “in the next few months.”
Brian Becker, the national coordinator for the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition argued radicalization is caused by the American cycle of violence in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not Islam.
“Righthere in the United States innocent people who go to the mosque every week are being targeted,” he said. “This is the first refuge of scoundrels and Peter King is the main scoundrel.”
Radio host Tony Katz from The Conversation with Tony Katz on PJTV.com however argued the trials are important and a conversation must be had on the radicalization of Muslim youth who wish to attack America and others globally.
“This isn’t just about America,” he commented. “These are people, these radicalized Muslims, who are doing the attacks in London, in Mumbai, in Bali, in Madrid.”
He argued the focus is on Islam because Muslims are the ones carrying out the attacks. Christians and other specific groups are not the ones who are operating as religiously-centric terrorists, he contended.
Becker however, citing Timothy McVeigh who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma, said there are others who carry out attacks.
“He [Timothy McVeigh] was a member of the militia, he was a white supremacist, and an Iraq war veteran from the first gulf war,” said Becker. “People are willing to take white supremacists, the violence, the terrorism that’s been perpetrated against people of color – black people and against Muslim people and against their mosques for a long time, and yet those people have not been a part of the conversation. This is just racism and religious profiling.”
“McVeigh was based on government hatred” explained Katz, “not religion.”
There is a worthwhile conversation on radicalization of Muslims in America and the threat it carries. That is not the same as ‘rounding up all Muslims,’ he said.
Becker contended that the conservative US government is using illegal profiling and cracking down on a specific group, an act he said was unconstitutional and violated freedom of religion.
Katz on the other hand said it does not prohibit Islam, and does not violate rights; it looks into an ongoing threat that is evident globally.