Grassroots group pressure King on Muslim hearings

February 17, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King
is facing grassroots pressure to cancel his planned hearings on the
"radicalization" of U.S. Muslims.

"He is doing precisely what President George Washington promised
would not happen: he is sanctioning bigotry and assisting persecution
toward the Muslim community," said Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the
Philadelphia-based Shalom Center.

Waskow's progressive activists on Thursday (Feb. 17) launched a "Let
Freedom Ring; Phone Congressman King" campaign urging the Long Island
Republican to focus on the "real gaps in protecting homeland security."

King says the hearings are necessary because law enforcement
officials have complained that Muslims often do no cooperate in
investigations. He has largely brushed off the critics, saying he is
"too busy preparing for the hearings" to respond to campaigns launched
by Muslim groups, Amnesty International, the Interfaith Alliance and

Also Thursday, a coalition of more than 80 religious leaders from
Long Island urged King to cancel the hearings and open a dialogue with a
variety of participants.

"A more constructive approach to strengthening the bonds of trust
that bolster our security and protect our values would be convening a
dialogue among faith leaders, law enforcement and elected officials such
as yourself," the letter said.