Critics raise concerns about House hearings on Muslims

WASHINGTON (RNS) A coalition of more than 50 Muslim, human rights, and faith organizations is urging House leaders to raise concerns about planned hearings this month on the "radicalization" of American Muslims.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, plans to focus his hearing on homegrown terrorism, including the Fort Hood shooting and attempted Times Square bombing, both plots hatched by American-born Muslims.

King has accused U.S. Muslim leaders of failing to cooperate with law enforcement officials and said that 80 percent of American mosques are run by extremists, a figure that Muslim leaders and scholars sharply dispute.

"Singling out a group of Americans for government scrutiny based on their faith is divisive and wrong," the coalition wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The 51-member coalition includes Amnesty International USA, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and the Interfaith Alliance, as well as dozens of local and national Muslim groups.

"I don't believe it warrants an answer," King said of the letters. "I am too busy preparing for the hearings."

A few members of Congress, including the House's two Muslims and former Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., have already denounced King's plans.

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