Critics raise concerns about House hearings on Muslims

February 3, 2011

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.