Voices: The Muslim Hearings On Capitol Hill

Compiled by Arturo R. García

There are few people in Congress who understand the dangerous impact of radical Islam like Pete King.

- Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)

This Committee cannot live in denial which is what some would have us do when they suggest that this hearing dilute its focus by investigating threats unrelated to Al Qaeda. The Department of Homeland Security and this committee were formed in response to the al Qaeda attacks of 9/11. There is no equivalency of threat between al Qaeda and neo-Nazis, environmental extremists or other isolated madmen. Only al Qaeda and its Islamist affiliates in this country are part of an international threat to our nation. Indeed by the Justice Department’s own record not one terror related case in the last two years involved neo-Nazis, environmental extremists, militias or anti-war groups.
- Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

I want to reiterate, however, my belief that a hearing on the linkage between extreme ideology and violent action be a broad-based examination. Yesterday, the FBI made an arrest in a recent Martin Luther King Day bombing attempt. News reports identify the suspect as a member of the same white supremacist group that influenced Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. I urge you, Mr. Chairman, to hold a hearing examining the Homeland Security threat posed by anti-government and white supremacist groups.

As a committee on Homeland Security, our mission is to examine threats to this nation’s security. A narrow focus that excludes known threats lacks clarity and may be myopic.
- Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS)

It is counterproductive to building trust when individuals or groups claim that Islam supports terrorism. This plays directly into the terrorist’s propaganda that the West’s ‘war on terror’ is actually a ‘war against Islam.’

The Muslim community in Los Angeles is an active participant in the securing of our homeland. Whether as new immigrants or multi-generational citizens, the vast majority of Muslim community members within my jurisdiction is fiercely proud of their American identity and display their patriotism on a daily basis.

- Lee Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff

At one point during the hearing, a colleague of King’s, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), claimed that “no one” who was attending the hearing has ever claimed that there were too many mosques in America. King then interrupted to assert that he had at one point claimed that there are too many mosques not cooperating with law enforcement, but not that there are too many mosques in America:

ROGERS: At no point have I ever heard a member of this committee on either side of the aisle assert that we have too many mosques, or too many Muslims, or anything of that kind, so I don’t know where the ranking member got that idea —

KING: If the gentleman would yield from I think what the ranking member was doing I said that there are too many mosques that don’t cooperate with law enforcement. I think testimony today has backed that up. I never said there were too many mosques in America.

Yet nearly four years ago, King clearly said that there were too many mosques in the United States:

KING: We have unfortunately, we have a, uh, too many mosques in this country, too many people that are sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully. I think there’s been a lack of full cooperation from too many people in the Muslim community. There’s a real threat here in this country.

- Zaid Jilani, ThinkProgress

Let me close with a story, but remember that it’s only one of many American stories that could be told. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a 23-year-old paramedic, a New York City police cadet and a Muslim American. He was one of those brave first responders who tragically lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago. As The New York Times eulogized, “He wanted to be seen as an all-American kid.” [...] Mr. Hamdani bravely sacrificed his life to try and help others on 9/11. After the tragedy some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers only because he was Muslim. It was only when his remains were identified that these lies were fully exposed. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be defined as a member of an ethnic group or a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow citizens. I yield back.

- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)

  • Jess

    Yes, Mr. King, you are right — there is no equivalency between Al Qaeda and various white supremacist and Christian groups int he US because the latter are far more influential, have support from the local population, and up to Sept. 11 managed to kill more people over a longer period of time.

    Let’s see. McVeigh killed 195 people in Oklahoma City. Several abortion clinics were threatened and bombed over the course of a dozen years. Recently we had an attacks on a Unitarian Church. There are active groups of militiamen training and running compounds in the Pacific Northwest. When was the last time the ATF got into a shootout with a Muslim group? Oh, right, never.

    So yes, Mr. King, you are correct. The two are not equivalent. Al Qaeda has no presence to speak of in the US, while these Christofascist groups have a huge one. Al Qaeda has no influence on politics, while the Christian fascists do, (they helped elect Michele Bachman and Sarah Palin). The Right has people in large groups that have support form the locals. Al Qaeda does not.

    By any measure, the Christians are a far greater threat. We’d better hold hearings and figure out what it is that radicalizes Christians. Something about those Churches I bet. I mean, we don’t really know what all those Baptists are saying in Church, do we? And they haven’t been willing to come forward when militia groups arise. Hmm.

    When white Christians — who are a far greater threat to me than Muslims in the US — are stopped at airports and when guys like King are willing to attack them, then I will take this man seriously.

    What King is doing is trying to score points with the extreme right of the Republican party. He wants to prove how bigoted he is, and dollars to donuts he is looking at higher office (and plum committee assignments). That means you have to curry favor with those folks because the GOP was long ago co-opted by them. The Southern Strategy worked — but not quite in the way the GOP leadership thought it would. Well, you make a deal with the devil, don’t be surprised when he shows up for your soul. The party of Lincoln and the Progressives gave it up.

  • Sewere

    The fact that this idiot doesn’t see the hypocrisy in his support for the IRA speaks volumes about the anti-Islam bent of his witch hunt. I think it is extremely important that all that happens is documented so that history will show supporters of this nefarious committee for who they are… xenophobes.

    • umm…what

      Lest we forget that the IRA had the complexion for the protection.