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Senate panel schedules Muslim rights hearing
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin called the hearings.
March 23rd, 2011
07:58 PM ET

Senate panel schedules Muslim rights hearing

By Rachel Streitfeld, CNN

Washington (CNN) - For the second time this month, members of Congress will hold a hearing on American Muslims - this time with a decidedly different spin.

A Senate Judiciary subcommittee plans to consider “measures to protect the rights of American Muslims” in a March 29 hearing, just weeks after an unrelated House committee prompted a flurry of controversy and media attention by examining the “radicalization of American Muslims.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said Tuesday that he called the hearing on Muslims’ civil rights in response to “a spike in anti-Muslim bigotry” including highly-publicized protests over a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York and a Florida pastor who planned to burn copies of the Koran.

“Our Constitution protects the free exercise of religion for all Americans,” Durbin said in a statement. “During the course of our history, many religions have faced intolerance. It is important for our generation to renew our founding charter’s commitment to religious diversity and to protect the liberties guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) welcomed the hearing Wednesday as a “positive development.”

The advocacy group came under criticism at the Muslim radicalization hearing, during which some House members said CAIR had counseled its members against cooperating with law enforcement - a charge the group vehemently denies.

“Given the (radicalization) hearings, given the threatened Koran burning last year, given the opposition to the mosques you see across the country, our story is very much front and center of the civil liberties struggle right now,” said CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor.

“I think it would be very important and useful to let people see what’s going on,” he said.

Durbin’s office released a list of speakers for the hearing:

Muslim civil rights leader Farhana Khera; Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick; Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, the Obama Administration’s top civil rights official; and former Assistant Attorney General Alex Acosta, the Bush Administration’s top civil rights official.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Politics

soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Renny

    There are two groups of people that have no rights in this country. 1) illegal alien invaders, 2) muslims

    April 5, 2011 at 9:01 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.