March 7th, 2011
01:00 PM ET
Muslims anxious, active ahead of radicalization hearings
Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door”, airs Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. E.T.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Every day this week, American Muslim activists are working overtime to prepare for congressional hearings on "the radicalization of American Muslims" that open Thursday.
Sunday saw Muslim demonstrators gather in New York's rain-drenched Times Square to protest the hearings, standing with celebrities like Russell Simmons and other non-Muslims who held signs declaring "I am Muslim, too."
On Monday, representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations - a national Muslim advocacy group - met will sympathetic Capitol Hill staffers to discuss communications strategy and grassroots organizing to counter Islamophia.
On Tuesday, a coalition of major Muslim, interfaith and civil rights groups will announce a new campaign and website to push back against politicians and others they say are trafficking in anti-Muslim rhetoric.
And that's before the hearings even begin.
“The community is anxious, uncertain and even fearful in terms of what this could become in this environment,” says Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic studies professor at American University who has met with Capitol Hill aides in advance of the hearings.
“There is a generalized sense of Islamophobia floating around, and the hearings are not doing anything to assuage Muslim fears.”
Days before the first in what Rep. Peter King, the House Homeland Security Committee chairman, has said will be a series of hearings on American Muslim radicalization, many Muslims are deeply nervous at the specter of being demonized from such a highly visible platform as Capitol Hill. The hearings may stretch out for more than a year.
But King’s hearings also have galvanized American Muslims, perhaps as never before, in an attempt to counter what they call a rising tide of Islamophobia, to lobby Washington about their concerns and to help shape the national narrative about their community.
The efforts come a little more than six months after many Muslims were blindsided by a wave of national opposition to a proposed Islamic cultural center near New York’s ground zero last summer.
“There was this sense after last summer’s events of needing to be more proactive in stemming this activity that stokes anti-Muslim hate,” said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy group.
“That’s why, as soon as we heard Rep. King say he planned to hold these hearings, we started coming forward to express our concerns,” Khera said.
In February, Muslim Advocates spearheaded a letter to congressional leaders objecting to the hearings. It was signed by more than 50 organizations, including civil rights groups that had not previously been involved with the American Muslim community.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim advocacy group, used its annual lobbying day last month to visit 90 congressional offices to “start offering facts about American Muslims and their role in helping prevent attacks on our nation,” said Corey Saylor, the group’s national legislative director.
Two other groups - the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Arab American Institute - held a briefing, “Islamophobia: A Challenge to American Pluralism,” for Capitol Hill staffers last Wednesday.
The King hearings are also spurring mosques around the country to get more political.
“Muslim Americans make vital contributions every day,” said Hadi Nael, director of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in California, whose congregation is calling and writing Congress to voice opposition to the King hearings.
“They love this country just as every American does and should not be placed under suspicion of terrorism because of their religious beliefs or ethnic background,” he said. “King’s hearings would do just that.”
Many Muslim activists said that recent remarks from King, a New York Republican, including his support for a theory that 80% of American mosques are controlled by radical imams, are evidence that he intends to target the American Muslim community broadly with his hearings, rather than focus on Islamic radicals.
“Let’s not fall into the same ugly patterns that were prevalent in earlier years in America, when Jews were suspected of aiding communism and Catholics were suspected of supporting fascism,” said Eboo Patel, a leading Muslim activist, summing up his opposition to the hearings.
“Let’s not repeat that history by blaming all Muslims for the extremist actions of a range of people in this country.”
A White House official appeared at a Muslim community center Sunday to speak about the need to prevent violent extremism, saying U.S. Muslims are part of the solution.
"The bottom line is this - when it comes to preventing violent extremism and terrorism in the United States, Muslim Americans are not part of the problem, you're part of the solution," said Denis McDonough, deputy national security adviser to President Obama. "Of course, the most effective voices against al Qaeda's warped worldview and interpretation of Islam are other Muslims."
McDonough also said, "We must resolve that, in our determination to protect the nation, we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few. In the United States of America, we don't practice guilt by association."
A White House source said McDonough's speech was not meant as a "prebuttal" to King's hearings, while a spokesman said the administration is finalizing its strategy to help stop violent extremism.
King called for the hearings on Muslim radicalization after Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in November's elections. He declined calls from some Democrats to broaden sessions to focus on extremists of all types, including neo-Nazis, radical environmentalists and anti-tax groups.
“Al Qaeda is actively attempting to recruit individuals living within the Muslim American community to commit acts of terror,” King wrote in a letter last month to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, who had suggested that King broaden the hearings’ scope.
“Pursuant to our mandate, the committee will continue to examine the threat of Islamic radicalization, and I will not allow political correctness to obscure a real and dangerous threat to the safety and security of the citizens of the United States,” King’s letter continued.
King told CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley on Sunday that "something from within" the Muslim community is a "threat" to America and needs to be explored.
He compared the goal of the hearings to investigating the Mafia within the Italian community or going after the Russian mob in "the Russian community in Brighton Beach and Coney Island."
"We're talking about al Qaeda," King said. "There's been self-radicalization going on within the Muslim community, within a very small minority, but it's there, and that's where the threat is coming from at this time."
King has yet to release a full witness list for this week’s hearing, exacerbating Muslim anxiety. The sole witness whose name King has released is Zuhdi Jasser, an Arizona doctor who is Muslim but who has criticized his religion.
King has also invited Rep Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota - the first Muslim elected to Congress - to testify.
Ellison also appeared on "State of the Union" on Sunday, saying, "I challenge the basic premise of the hearings."
"We should deal with radicalization and violent radicalization, but ... singling out one community is the wrong thing to do," he said.
Democrats have invited Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca, who has praised Muslim leaders for building relationships with law enforcement authorities, to testify.
A recent survey showed that 56% of Americans support the upcoming hearings, compared with 29% who think they’re a bad idea.
The February survey, conducted by Public Opinion Research and the Religion News Service, found that seven in 10 Americans think Congress should refrain from singling out Muslims and should investigate all religious extremism.
Not all Muslims object to the hearings. American University's Ahmed says that many first-generation American Muslims, feeling rejected both by their parents' culture and by their American peers, are at risk of being radicalized.
"There's a new generation of Muslim Americans who are born here or have grown up here and are no longer fully accepted as Egyptians or Pakistanis, as their parents are," he says. "But America is also rejecting them, day and night Islam is being demonized… they’re suspended between two cultures.”
"Whey you are 18, that can push you into a dangerous situation," Ahmed says. "You can go online and some idiot in the Middle East can push you in a dangerous direction. It has little to do with theology and a lot to do with anthropology."
Other American Muslims interpret King’s hearings as the culmination of years of growing domestic suspicions of their community, dating back to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“For the last 10 years, there has been a movement of intolerance against Muslim Americans, but it hasn’t been above the surface,” says Patel, who leads the Interfaith Youth Corps.
“It’s now clear, from everything from the discussion around the Cordoba House (one name for the proposed New York Islamic center) to the way King has framed the hearings that there is an anti-Muslim sentiment in America that is reminiscent of anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism,” he said.
“But I’d rather it be out in the open like it is now,” Patel continued.
According to the Justice Department, there were 107 anti-Muslim hate-crime incidents in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available, up from 28 such incidents in 2000.
With the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the horizon and some likely contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination talking up the threat of Islamic law, or sharia, taking hold in the United States, many Muslims said they fear the worst is to come.
But many are also feeling that their community is finally preparing itself to take on those challenges.
“This is a very American thing, congressional hearings,” said Ahmed of this week’s King session. “Let’s present the complexity and sophistication of Islam so Americans understand it better. It’s a teaching moment.”
CNN's Susan Candiotti, Bonney Kapp and Rebecca Stewart contributed to this report.
About this blog
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.
I don't recall hearing any outrage from these offended Muslims after 9/11. Their silence is deafening until you point it out to them. Then you are the problem, never them.
Actually they were quite vocal in their condemnation of the radical murderers who carried out that attack.
Be brave like France and ban the Burka!! Either blend or leave the US. Can't trust any of them.
When you have legislators pushing for laws that will make it a law for people to follow and enforce the law... you have some stupid-A lawmakers.
Phobias often have merit.
We avoid predators and poisonous creatures because of the known history of their ability to paralyze, maim or kill.
Is there no history of these threats from Muslims that seek to impose their doctrine upon communities, cities, provinces, and nations; with a global objective?
Why do we claim that the inactive Muslims are peaceful? Why do we expect them to denounce their doctrine that the extremist are demanding that they act upon.
Are there peaceful Muslims? Are there just those that are Muslim in name only or are they laying in wait to pounce. Being peacefully methodical in one's objectives to impose a doctrine does not mean that the end result is benevolent.
How about having hearings on the radicalization of Christian Extremists? The are just as dagerous. They kill Doctors who provide abortions, blow up abortion clinics and target those who do not follow their beliefs.
Get rid of ALL religion and then we'll have something to brag about. It's all nothing but a trouble causing fairy tale.
Welcome to the modern day McCarthy hearings. Ironically, King's disgusting hearings are more counter American values than any so called "radicalization." They are also meant to cynically divide us and appeal to the equally dangerous radical Christians who are the back bone of the GOP.
Can someone please hold hearings on Radical Christians...they are much more a threat to our American way of life.
I say it's time to turn over some rocks here at home and see what these protesters are trying to protect. This is 21st century America. We are dealing with 21st century problems -18th, 19th and 20th century problems are history!
I don't understand why muslims forget what they do and start acting as if all their actions are mere reactions to the US so called tyranny. Even after 2001 they started saying " Oh, because of what's happening in Palestine". Come on ... for once can you stand up for your actions??? And please don't compare Islamophobia to accusing Jews of communism or catholics of fascism. Neither Jews or catholics had passages in their holy books supporting communism or fascism. However, all muslims know of heart the numerous verses in Koran ordering muslims to terrorize and fight and kill all non believers. Enough Lies.
Why is there no democracy in any of the Islamic countries (UAE, IRAN, IRAQ etc.). How can you ask for democratic rights in other countires ?
Muslims have only one agenda : Islamic Rule and eliminate others.
Muslims only make up like .6% of America... I am Muslim, I am not a terrorist. So let the hearing begin, my Muslim community and I have nothing to be scared of. Peace be with my brothers (Jews, Christians, Muslims)
They let these B.C people in the country?
For all the liberals out there who still want to embrace muslims as peaceful people.Guess what religion fired at and killed Air Force personnel in Frankfurt, Germany? Do we actually need to wait for the music to stop to answer–he was a radical muslim- he wasn't Christian, Jewish,Hindu or an Atheist, he was muslim. Do you really want to embrace what kills you?
Can you prove to me that ALL Muslims want to kill me?
Well, there you go. And the Christians get Hitler. Guess you win.
Don't be ridculous. Most muslims are lazy about their religion. Some are even Muslim atheists. We can't tell who is who because the murder apostates. The problem is the ones who take the religion seriously, because it is a religion of violence, incitement to murder, and hatred. We don't have to worry about extremist Jains, or Amish, but we do have to worry about extremist followers of Islam. It's the ones who truly take the explicit instructions of Islam seriously that are the problem. Most people just aren't that serious.
Let the Hearings begin! IT's about time the muslim are being held accountable for their actions or in-actions. They say they're nervous. Well so am I every time I get on the train and see some muslim woman covered head to toe, standing, while her bearded oppressor sits staring at all the blonde headed women.
Hudud (Penalties) in Contemporary Legal Discourse
Please now America...No Racial Profiling of Muslims allowed!!!
Pause a moment, reflect back, and take the following multiple choice test. These events are actual events from history.. They really happened! Do you remember?
HERE'S THE TEST
1. 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by: a.. Superman b. Jay Leno c. Harry Potter d. A Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40
2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by : a. Olga Corbett b. Sitting Bull c. Arnold Schwarzenegger d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
3. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by: a. Lost Norwegians b. Elvis c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
4. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by: a. John Dillinger b. The King of Sweden c. The Boy Scouts d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
5. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by: a. A pizza delivery boy b. Pee Wee Herman c.. Geraldo Rivera d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
6. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by: a. The Smurfs b. Davey Jones c. The Little Mermaid d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
7. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens , and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by: a. Captain Kidd b. Charles Lindberg c. Mother Teresa d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
8. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by: a. Scooby Doo b. The Tooth Fairy c. The Sundance Kid d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
9. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by: a. Richard Simmons b. Grandma Moses c. Michael Jordan d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
10. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by: a. Mr. Rogers b. Hillary Clinton, to distract attention from Wild Bill's women problems c. The World Wrestling Federation d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
11. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take out the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by: a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd b. The Supreme Court of Florida c. Mr Bean d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
12. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against: a. Enron b. The Lutheran Church c. The NFL d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
13. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by: a. Bonnie and Clyde b. Captain Kangaroo c. Billy Graham d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
No, I really don't see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you? So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people.. They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President's security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim Males between the ages 17 and 40 alone lest they be guilty of profiling.
Let's send this to as many people as we can
Foot note: Fort Hood Texas ......another Muslim 39 years old killed 13 people and wounded 30 some odd others... Does this fit the profile!
NOW OUR COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF IS TELLING EVERYONE THAT THE YOUNG MUSLIM THAT ATTEMPTED TO BLOW UP A NORTHWEST/DELTA JET AS IT APPROACHED DETROIT ON CHRISTMAS DAY OVER A YEAR AGO WAS (QUOTE) "AN ISOLATED INCIDENT". YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME OR WHAT!!! MY FATHER USE TO SAY: "PLEASE DON'T PEE ON MY LEG AND TELL ME IT'S RAINING."
I dono what your point is but, all these incidents you mention are OVERSHADOWED BY A SINGLE ACT OF TERRORISM COMMITTED by your uncle George Bush. By lying to the International Community, Undercutting all Peaceful Efforts, and then Illegally Invading Iraq and TERRORIZING THE CITIZENS OF IRAQ, you have killed directly atleast 100,000 innocent civilian Iraqis and caused the death of 100,000s more from the ensuing lawlessness.
So what's the difference between YOU and the people you are talking about in your post. You are both TERRORISTS. Difference is you did in one big act, they are doing the same in numerous small ones.
The My Lai Massacre was committed by: a. Lost Norwegians b. Elvis c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40 e. Americans
The lynching of blacks in the South was committed by: a. Lost Norwegians b. Elvis c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40 e. Americans
Native Americans were murdered and run off so that which group could steal their land: a. Lost Norwegians b. Elvis c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40 e. Americans
Who tested LSD on their own soldiers? a. Lost Norwegians b. Elvis c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40 e. Americans
Who used torture, indefinite detention without charges and a concentration camp in their War on Terror? a. Lost Norwegians b. Elvis c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40 e. Americans
Who invaded Iraq and caused the death of tens of thousands of innicent civilians despite having no legitimate reason for the invasion? a. Lost Norwegians b. Elvis c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40 e. Americans
Who was stupid enough to believe a bunch of phony evidence from an Iranian intelligence asset named Ahmed Chalabi and invaded Iraq? a. Lost Norwegians b. Elvis c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40 e. Americans
Who manipulated America and won the war in Iraq? a. Iran
I could make my quiz far longer than yours.
Elements of The Good Guy/Gal War on Terror and Aggression:
-Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 97,172 – 106,047 Iraqi civilians killed as of 8/10/2010 mostly due the Shiite and Sunni suicide bombers.
– Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,116 killed in action, 902 killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,
– Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.
– Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)
– North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.
– Northern Ireland is finally at peace.
– The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!
– Bin La-d-en has been cornered under a rock in Western Pakistan since 9/11.
– Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
– Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols will follow soon.
– Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.
– Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.
– Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.
– The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.
– And of course the bloody terror brought about by the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.
Your comeback quiz was witty and not bad on facts. But I don't get the conclusion you're trying to draw. Are you insinuating that Americans are trying to blow up other Americans here at home? I guess that 's partially true considering that the terrorists being apprehended for these crimes are Muslim Americans.
That is SO funny, you also missed a few and that new one in Germany.
Sirhan Sirhan was actually a Christian. I quit reading right there.
If you look at most countries that are fighting terroism, they are fighting muslims that they let into their country:
Any explanations why the muslims over there create violence on innocent citizens?
You can find these teachings in Mosque: He who is not a muslim is an enemy of Islam. You can kill him/her to please Allah.
Except, Larry Hayworth, the religion Islam actually calls for doing that kind of stuff, and there are Imams all over the globe at this very minute calling their followers to Jihad. Luckily for us most of them are not very good Muslims.
Greater than 100,000, the Number of Muslims killed by American Soldiers in the last ten years.
Number of ACTUAL MUSLIM TERRORISTS KILLED: Less than a thousand.
We need to be investigating the Republicans that caused that.
Contribution of Islam to Civilization;
Muneef: Nice presentation. It ends about 1400 or so. So I ask the following: What have you done lately? Also not thrilled about your use of a desecrated Byzantine church as an example of great architecture. What happened to the Hagia is what all of us infidels who have a brain are trying to prevent: Conquest!
The combined countries representing the 1.5 billion followers of Islam hold fewer patents than tiny (50 million) South Korea.
They need to do hearings on the growing epidemic of ignorance and racism in this country. So many of you could be brought in as proof of the problem.
To Representative Pete King: Wherever you have discrimination, poverty, injustice, racism, and classism you have the potential for a "terrorist". Robin hood would have been considered a terrorist, by today's definition.
my friends that are muslim are not radical, so my thoughts are not including the radical, I don't know any.
the muslim portion of the U.S. needs to get involved in the running of the U.S.
Out in S.F. the Asian community is making big strides in representing themselves more, I think muslims need to do more that direction
Yeah, try doing a I am NOT Muslim march in the Middle East and see how far that goes. US is much more tolerant than most countries, not all warm & fuzzy, but def more tolerant in general!
You are ignorant if you think that Islam is a race. No, it's a violent religion that defames non-believers and incites violence in the Qur'an and the Hadith, and from the pulpit.
The problem is Radical Republicanism.Two of my buddies are Shiite Iranian Texan Americans. They know full well that the Republican Party is using the POWER Government of the United States to drive Americans away from their religion.