Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Blog

Today marked the kickoff for the Peter King (R-NY) Hearings on so-called radicalization of the American Muslim community. Well, that’s what the hearing was supposed to be about. But amid the controversy over King’s singling out of the American Muslim community, today’s show trial ended up involving a thorough discussion about its own legitimacy: a King hearing on the King Hearings. It was political theatre at its best.

Dean of the House of the Representatives, Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), kicked off his remarks by emphasizing the integral role played by the American Muslim community in all its diversity in the broader American family. He warned against allowing the hearings to resemble McCarthyism. You can watch his full remarks by clicking here.

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) offered an impassioned defense of American Muslim community. He said “Ascribing the evil acts of a few individuals to an entire community is wrong; it is ineffective; and it risks making our country less secure.” As part of his remarks, he emotionally recapped the story of a Muslim 9/11 responder, Mohammad Hamdani, who was killed after rushing into the World Trade Center. Click here to watch Congressman Ellison’s emotional recapping of the story of the Muslim 9/11 responder.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) blasted the hearings as “grossly incomplete,” and questioned the qualifications of the witnesses, saying “While I think these anecdotes are interesting, I don't believe these are experts.” She asked Zuhdi Jasser (president, founder, and, according to their website, sole board member of American Islamic Forum for Democarcy) directly whether he should even be speaking at the hearing at all.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) said she was “appalled” by the fact that “we have not gotten to a substantive conversation about how we define terrorism, how we define the whole idea of radicalization,” and likened the hearing to “reality TV.”

AAI President Jim Zogby also offered a response to the King Hearings, noting that while radicalization in general is indeed a problem, King’s record of inflammatory comments coupled with his singling out of a particular community made these hearings the wrong place to address that problem. You can watch his full comments here.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said that law enforcement's relationship with the American Muslim community was crucial in America's counter-terrorism strategy. He said he had good news to share, that the "Muslim community in Los Angeles is an active participant in the securing of our Homeland." He defended having positive relations with certain Muslim organizations to the criticism of Congressman Chip Cravaack (R-MN).

These are but a few highlights of the hearing, and we will keep posted as things develop. Follow us on Twitter @AAIUSA and like us on facebook at facebook.com/ArabAmericanInstitute for regular updates.

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