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.
Let's not forget the near takeover of such businesses as 7-11's, taxi cabs, smoke shops, etc., by Muslim immigrants. There are now more mosques being built in the US than churches and synagogues.
And why shouldn't there be? Islam is the fastest growing religion in the WORLD!
Amen, Perilous. I, too, am an atheist. Yet I find I often hold more tolerance for religion and religious people than those who claim faith in god. Those who demonize or fear Islam know very little about its core message. (Maybe they should read poetry from Sufi mystic poet, Rumi... who was inspired by the Quran to write and spread a message that transcends Islam and religion and appeals to all people). Tolerance is at the core of our American ideals. Love is at the core of being human. It is beyond my understanding why too many people choose not to tolerate or love others based on differences that are often similarities.
Ridiculous argument because of one poet...the underlying fact is that Muslims worship Mohammed who was a war mongering pedofile who spread violence...yeah you are really peaceful.
american muslims....do what the jews did....
have all your children become lawyers....so that when they take your rights away, your children can fight them using the legal system...
How can you believe or trust any religion or in this case CULT who worships a leader who had 11 wives, the youngest 6 yrs. old, and who massacred a village of over 600 people who were trying to surrender? I'd never trust any Muslim. And a religion that says it is OK to kill anyone who doesn't believe the way you do.
Islamophobia is not real, just a word made up by fundies to make itself look persecuted. Same with Anti-semitism. It may have once been true but now its just to make itself look like the victim when in reality they are the persecutors.
Leave it to CNN to hype this by twisting this into something negative for Muslims in general. Doesn't CNN and the American Muslim powers that be want to get to the bottom of any some Muslims in America are radicalized? Can't be because they live in dust and squalor with no education and little food – that is the cry of th epoor backward Muslims countries ioverseas. Could it be that American Muslims are radicalized bacause they hate western civilization? Ya think, CNN?
CNN is a shrill for CAIR, and CNN continues to display their bias against Christians and contempt for America. CNN is thoroughly "Euroized" and have taken up the mantra "blame America first, aside from their incessant moddycoddling of Muslims.
As soon as the world learned that the shooter in Germany was a radicalized Muslim, CNN dropped the story. They dare not, like most leftist media, print one negative thing about Muslims, and by default this includes the throat slitting bunch who are ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALIST TERRORISTS.....shhhhh...don't tell Obama I used the word terrorist and Islam ibnt he same sentence...
Jim, your post was well-informed and on target. Thank you.
This is not what this country is about. It goes against the most basic tenets of why the United States was founded, why we fought a war for freedom.
I stand with the oppressed. I am a vehement atheist, but for this fight, I am a Muslim and I stand with the Muslim people. What's happening here is truly shameful, and I will never consent to be a part of it.
And just for saying that there are radical muslims that would want to behead you. Just FYI.
How about the Muslim's coming together and stamping the radical elements within the community? Whenever anyone questions what is happening in the community, they cry Islamophobia. America is the most tolerant nation in the world. Mix in some leadership within the Muslim community to deal with issues facing the country and relations will be fine.
maybe the muslims should do something to assuage OUR fears
Too bad they didn't de-radicalize Bush before he heard his Christian God telling him to invade Iraq.
The Iraq invasion was sustained and supported by the U.S. Congress. It was not just "Bush." It was also sustained by the UN. Get over it. Not everything is the fault of the US or GWB.
Jus take religion out the of the equation and then what will people fight over?
Aspects of Islamic Etiquette
Islam's idea of etiquette:
The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century
■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "
and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.
and more recently
1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured
1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh
2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured
3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,483 and 925 in non combt roles.
99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and
4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.
5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.
6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.
7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.
8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.
9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.
10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror
11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.
12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.
13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,
14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.
15) Followed by the daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings every day in the terror world of Islam.
16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.
17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.
18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.
19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011
20) two American troops killed in Germany Wednesday by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011
And if we were to list all the transgressions and atrocities committed by the Christians, the list would go on forever. Are you really, truly sure you want to get into a shoving match based on this kind of nonsense? There is no religion on Earth more guilty of atrocities in the name of religion than the Christian faith.
The fact that you are so eager and willing to accuse others of crimes while ignoring your own is a testament to the hypocrisy of all religion everywhere.
I am not defending religion – there is no defense for the poison that is religion. I am defending *people*. We are all equal, and we are all responsible for one another. We are all related. There is no excuse, ever, for racism or discrimination. The only intolerance anyone should practice is intolerance for the intolerant.
I'm sure if you tallied up the innocents slaughtered by "Christian Soldiers" over the year, you'd have to rig the numbers because you wouldn't believe how many hundreds of millions have died in the name of the Christian God.
I was raised Christian. I now despise the very idea of it. The hypocrisy. The double standards. The cannibalism. Disgusting.
Let's all of those innocent non-believers in Latin America circa 1500 and around the world their impression of Christians. As the Pope said – 'they should be happy that we converted them'; along with the raping, pillaging, killing, torture, enslavement, etc. Hypocrite says – 'What'?
The Fatwa concept;
Three old wise men,
A woman came out of her house and saw three old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. She said 'I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat.'
' Is the man of the house in home ?' they asked .
' No ', she replied . ' He's out '
'Then we cannot come in ', they replied .
In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened
He said: ' Go tell them I am in home and invite them I! N '
The woman went out and invited the men in .
' We do not go into a House together !' they replied .
'Why is that ?' she asked .
One of the old men explained : 'His name is Wealth ,' he said as pointing to one of his friends, and said, pointing to another one , 'He is Success, and I am Love ' Then he added, 'Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home .'
The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed . ' How nice !' he said . ' Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth . Let him come and fill our home with wealth !'
His wife disagreed . ' My dear, why don't we invite Success ?'
Their daughterinlaw was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion : ' Would it not be better to invite Love ?Our home will then be filled with love .'
'Let us heed/follow our daughterinlaw' s advice,' said the husband to his wife !
'Go out and invite Love to be our guest.'
The woman went out and asked the three old men , 'Which one of you is Love ? Please come in and be our guest .'
Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other two also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth andSuccess : 'I only invited Love ; Why are you coming in?'
The old men replied together : 'If you had invited Wealth or Success , the other two of us would've stayed out, but since you invitedLove , wherever He goes, we go with him. Wherever there isLove, there is also...
WOW! NICE!!! LOVE IT!
The history of Muslim victories has always centered around building a "Victory Mosque". This is why the blow back over the proposed "Ground Zero" mosque. People are afraid it will be seen that way by the the Muslim world/community. As far as the one in the bible belt , people don`t want a mosque. They see it as a haven for potential terrorists.
Where do you get your facts from? I find it amusing that random people just say random things about other people. Get me a phrase from the Quran or anything that justifies your statement.
A mosque is a haven for potential terrorists the same way a church is a haven for potential pedophiles.
Hmmm? See...? Don't like it when that crap is thrown back on you, do you Christians? See how that works?
When people believe their heaven is a 72 count brothel.. it's hard to 'communicate' with them.
NewsBusters: CNN Hypes Muslims' 'Islamophobia' Worries Over Rep. King's Hearings
There are far more people in America attempting to impose a Christian sharia that muslims.
Faith is the fervent belief in the obviously untrue.
The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:
( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)
Are you ready?
Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.
The First Five of the 77 Branches:
"1. Belief in Allah"
aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.
"2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."
Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".
"3. To believe in the existence of angels."
A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.
"4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."
Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.
Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.
Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.
"5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."
Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.
Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!
Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.
For those interested, analogous step programs for deprogramming centuries of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Pagan myths are available upon request.-–
What about deprogramming Christian mythology?
1) If Jesus was your savior...um...don't EAT him, ok? And don't drink his blood. That's frowned upon in educated society. Eating people and drinking their blood, figuratively or not (though you say it's LITERALLY his body and blood)....either way, it's barbaric.
2) If you're so loving and forgiving, then stop judging everyone else and holding them up to your standards, condemning to hell anyone who doesn't subscribe to your "Eat Jesus" club
3) The bible is a book written by man, not God. Yeah, I know...it's the word of god spoken to men...so they say. THe new testament especially is nothing more than a contrived non-fiction work written by the church to suit its needs.
4) God loves everyone Ok? Even gays and lesbians. He made em that way, he loves them just as much as he loves you and me. End of discussion.
5) The US is NOT a Christian nation; we are a nation of people from all races, colors, creeds and religions.
Chalk it up to how religion cannot keep it's story straight and another to the list of facts that cannot be countered by religious myth.
@MrEO you are right about mohammed and muslims fear that the world my find out the truth about his subhuman life style...alot of the radical ones pattern their life's after him, figures...