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.
Had a feeling some thing is cooking here but not sure what is the contents or the name of the dish;
They have the same faith and destiny as it seems have both decided that democracy should end any replace it with religious faith...I wonder what that would mean in the long run...
Will their start be Muslims and the Atheists or vise versa...?!
Seriously? I posted 3 or 4 times and they are listed as "awaiting moderation". I can understand preventing certain words, from being published but has the term "bigot" suddenly been deemed a swear word?
Peter King sounds like he wants to be the Eugene McCarthy of this generation. I am a lifelong Republican old enough to remember the shame McCarthyism brought upon this country. Going back to those days demonstrates the old adage once again: "He who fails to study history is condemned to repeat it." Peter King, like McCarthy, will find exactly what he wants to find on his witch hunt. He is not interested in facts or reality, only in finding his version of "Reds under the bed".
When Congress had nothing to do, can't fix the budget overcome their shortfall then they decided to distract American people with frivilious agendas. This looks more like a ET (Entertainment tonight) news where Kooki did something weird/strange/exciting. The muslims here in America is just like any ethnicity trying to make a living get ahead etc., etc.
Rep. Peter King still has not explained why his support for a terrorist organization was all right in his own mind.
Peter King is just another pandering pol, he'll waste a lot of money, ruin a few lives, and in the end no good will come of it!
King's hearing should be called the "House Committe on Un-American Thinking." We absolutely have to ferret out and isolate people who are in this country and think un-American thoughts. err.. oh.. wait a minute that whole idea is un-American so we have to identify King and his legions of would-be-kings as un-American and lock them up for their own good. All people with the sur-name of "King" are ispo facto un-American.
I do believe that Muslims are at war with the infidels. Therefore their best weapon in our current world, is Taqiyya. Its pretty effective.
The US has a long history of demonization of Arabs and Muslims, and its not just by the AIPAC etc extremists and the DC conservative thinktanks, or the "Christian" bible belt hatemongers. Supposedly "liberal" Hollywood has spearheaded Islamophobia since the end of WWII. Dr. Jack Shaheen's extraordinary 1,000 page reference book (amongst many) into the vilification of Arabs and Muslims in the entertainment industry tells a sickening tale of racism and hatred, in which we the US public have been completely indoctrinated (read brainwashed) for decades into the belief that *all* Arabs and Muslims are terrorists, potential terrorists, devil worshippers, violent, evil, filthy, and every other imaginary negative trait out there.
It;'s hardly a wonder that the public instantly believed the official (now 100% discredited) Muslim conspiracy theory of 9/11: after all, the preconceptions of Arabs/Muslims as a result of the infantilization and mental-corralling of the US public had been incorporated into the 9/11 operation as an element of "wiggle room" in the possibility that things didn't go off quite according to plan... which in fact happened... there were some notable glitches, but the powers-that-be, with the media in tow had their asses covered enough to convince the public from the minute UA175 hit the South Tower.
I am an Arab non-Muslim. If you read the Quran and the Hadith (Muhamad's sayings) in Arabic, you will discover MANY MANY verses (wrongly translated in English Qurans) that say God said, "Kill the infidels" and many other obnoxious things about women. Don't look at moderate muslims for the answer, because they ignore those verses so they can live a normal life. Go to the source itself. Fundementalist muslims are actually just following their religion precisly.
The bible, on the other hand says, "Vengeance is mine, says the lord" and Jesus said, "He who lives by the sword, will die by the sword". Now which is the religion of peace???
They're all bad. Already Christianity is failing in America due to our youth understanding that their insecurities cannot be solved by some fairy tale. It will take many more centuries but Islam and all other religions I believe will die out to small tribal like pockets of desperate people looking for salvation.
>> God said, "Kill the infidels" and many other obnoxious things about women
As a Muslim, I can tell you that this statement right here shows your complete ignorance of Islam!! It's just this type of ignorant statement that perpetuates the the hate and bigotry against Muslims that is becoming all too common in this country.
I was born and raised in this country; my parents were Irish and Scottish. I have just as much right to be here as anyone and I have a right to worship as I please. I have chosen Islam!! Do NOT attempt to interfere with the freedom of religion of Muslims in this country!!
Yes, please someone in America or Britain, give this "Arab Non-Muslim" a visa to come and live in your great country. He is really scared, the Arab Moslems are going to read the Quran and HAdith and kill him. SAVE HIM PLEASE! GIVE HIM A VISA!
Such hearings are the most dangerous idea I have ever heard about in quite some time. No one is holding hearings about the radicalization of American Christians who are killing doctors who perform abortions!!
What has happened to my country!! I am ashamed to be an American!! Perhaps it's time there was a bit of Egyptian style protest in this country to knock a bit of sense into those who are suppose to represent us in Washington!!
My friends 2012 is real.!!!!!
Islams is all about hate. Most of you have never seen things outside of this country so u wluld never understand. Most of your muslim neighbors here really do want to kill u if u aren't muslim. But they won't jeopordize their families material things so the mask it. If u go to other countries where they don't have what we have, they don't care what they lose so u will die...
The problem is the muslims don't think like americans. The religion of islam isn't an american religion. Islam promotes a way of thinking is about bringing a country under the control.of islam which isn't something the US is interested in. The muslims propogate a country and then infiltrate the government and try to enact laws that accomodate islam but that is equal to war. It isn't bombs but it is takeover by groundtroops who are the soldiers of islam. Some are more radical than others but the bottom line is muslims are going to do whatever the leaders of islam tell them to do whether it is to create a revolution or murder christians and the islam religion binds its believers into that level of obedience. There is no way to have peace with people who believe in islam because the beliefs of islam are not peaceful but revolutionary in nature. The goal of islam is to either convert people or overthrow people until all is in submission to Allah and the whole world is under Allah's control. Yuck, Yuck, Yuck. How dumb can you be and still breath?
Islam is many things to many people. To try to squeeze it into a little box called "revolutionary" is to know nothing about Islam. Islam is like an ocean, full of many possibilities. To some Islam is a revolutionary idea, to others it is a personal moral code, to others it is a Good vs Evil thing, to others its all about recognizing the creator (God).
If you want to look at the ocean and define it as a highway for ships to cross over. Full stop. Then you have nt really understood the ocean at all have you!
Having a bad day in the trailer park? Here's an idea: get off of your lazy butt, stop living off of a government check, get a job, and earn enough to go get yourself an education. Trust me, people won't be calling you an "elitist" for getting an education. People will actually appreciate you talking intelligently for once in your life.
This guy King is holding our secular values to ransom, and some of us have found a way to acquiesce. Religions either follow an archaic philosophy or mortal leaders anointed God's messenger by later generation followers. Somewhere lost is what it is to be human.
I'd sure much rather be a Muslim than one of the ignorant bigots who thinks they're all radicals. Many of my best neighbors and friends are Muslim or Middle Eastern.
One word for you my friend. Taqiyya. All of us need to learn this word. This is why we think Muslims are our friends. When one gets caught trying to blow a building up such as Hosam Smadi. His friends said, "I cant believe he wanted to do that?!! He was such a nice person...." Well he was practicing Taqiyya on you. Which meens he is aloud under his fatih to decieve you and lie to you and when you least expect it, he will stab you in the back.
Lying is considered a MAJOR SIN in Islam. Taqiyya that you refer to is "lying to save your life" which I am sure pretty much everybody would do if they had a gun pointing to their head and the gun would go off if they admitted they were Muslim and it would not if they lied and said they were not! Usually in Sunni Islam, the taqiyya is limited to battlefield and war situations where you are formally at war with an enemy and have to lie or deceive to save lives and win (and thus end) warfare.
Yes but if all Muslims feels that they are at war with the infidel, then this is one of the times he can lie. The other 2 times are to solve a dispute with his wife and the last one is to solve a dispute between friends.
>> Yes but if all Muslims feels that they are at war with the infidel <<
there is no such thing as "feel at war". In islam, scholars define war as something DECLARED. You as a citizen of an islamic country are either at war with an infidel nation or you are not. Is Pakistan at war with America? NO. Egypt? NO. Iran? NO. Saudi Arabia? NO. Afghanistan? YES. Iraq? NO.
So your witch hunt for Muslims and taqiyya is just that, empty (and loud) intestinal discharge. This is the beauty of Islam, it is a religion of nobility and chivalry. Not of underhandedness and secrecy. If you want to fight someone, you declare war on them in public, so all know who is the enemy and what is the purpose of war. Especially, the enemy knows, and there is room for coming to terms and making peace.
It's pretty obvious that Islam is at war with anyone who is not Muslim as well as at war with those who do not convert.
And btw, 9/11 was a pretty good display your act of war.
The way I see it muslims only owe their allegiance to their blankity blank religion and not to this country! It is their religion that is making them radical.
Christians put their religion ahead of their country too. What do you think would happen if the US started a war on christians, like the neo-cons in this country are doing to muslims?
Just wait till your heads rolling across the floor or they start blowing up the schools. There is No reason to expect it to be any different here than it is any place else after they get their foothold that Obama gave them......
You bleeding hearts are going to be the ruin of the USA
You live in a fantasy world. Do you cry yourself to sleep every night?
Tewrobert if your so scared why not run? Go live in sweden or the bahamas?
Actually they were looking into banning any new mosques in Sweden last I heard
He's not the only one that feels this way.
You're an idiot for falling for the neo-conservative plan to implement fascism in america. Your nationalist fever is one of the main components of fascism.
Muslims just started moving to this country when Obama was elected? Effin moron!!
All Muslims are not bad, but there is obvioulsy a certain segment that is radical, these are both undeniable facts. All religions have their zealots, but Islam seems to have more than its fair share. You don't hear about Christians, Jews, or Scientologists blowing people up every week or performing honor killings, so its safe to say that Islam is the most radical of all religions.
You might have a crazy christian kill an abortion doctor every decade or so, but radcal muslims kill in the name of Allah almost daily. The facts don't lie.
The whole proces would be a lot easier if the GOOD Muslims would do a little more to differentate themselves from the BAD ones. If they want us to understand them, then they need to come out of the mosque and get to know their neighbors, not vice versa.
Maybe the asymmetry is a result of the fact that there are no middle eastern countries establishing military bases on and flying jets over our soil.
You don't hear about Christians or Jews blowing themselves up in the news like terrorist from the middle east who say they are carrying out God's orders and you're right. But, who's to say that Islam is the world's most dangerous and radical religion? Throughout the course of history nearly every group of people has come out and committed corrupt acts of terrorism and violence. Think about the crusades? A "holy" war. The reconquistas and the Inquisition. Muslims and Jews in Europe were persecuted and killed through violent acts of war funded by the Catholic Church. What about the witch hunts in Europe? Numerous women were persecuted by the church's and burned to death.
Obviously, members of all religions of the world have carried out violent inhumane acts of terror in the name of whatever their religion may be.
In the end though, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all peaceful religions. What's going on right now is completely unacceptable and the terror needs to be stopped for the sake of world safety. Though, to blame nearly 1.8 billion people of the world who practice Islam as a threat to the security of the world is not only very offensive but also incorrect. Muslims are the victims of terrorist attack just like any other group of people in the world. These terrorist groups like al-Qaeda are extremely dangerous to the safety of all people of the world including Muslims. Their actions are by no means Islamic and despite their claims, are only working to increase their POLITICAL power.
>> You don't hear about Christians or Jews blowing themselves up in the news like terrorist from the middle east <<
thats because jews and christians just killed each other (FIFTY MILLION OF THEM), that's right 50,000,000 of each other, just 60 years ago. Not 500 years ago or 2,000 years ago. ONLY SIXTY YEARS AGO. maybe you heard of it. It was called WORLD WAR TWO. Muslims had nothing to do with it. and were virtual passerbys, looking at the show.
The whole world was killing each other, 100,000s dying everyday. Muslim terrorists of the middle east are just children compared to christians and jews when it comes to killing!
You are right, but not totally: The Old testament has a lot from our perspectve extrene rules, as death penalty for a lot of sins, stoning etc. etc which are not enforced by even the most orthodox Jew. Nor is the separtion of state and religions established.
By the way: the bleeding hearts posauning that "thou shall not kill" means no death penalty, could be so nice turn some pages and read what the law establish. "kill" is a translation error from the hebrew, it shoud say "murder"
The two main problems of the moslems are:
– they do no not try to adapt the harsh lows conceived for the beduin tribes to the modern world
– thwy ignore rthat the equally hash rules how to treat infidels applied to heathen people and no to "peoples of the book". meaning Jew and Christians
– and worse of all: as you hint, the moderate majoritiy has not the courage to stand againat the fundamentalist imams. Of course, this is evenworsened by the complicity of the Governmentsw, beginning by the US one, tolerating that there are thousands of fundamentalists and often criminal preachers,in the Western mosques, poisoning the youth, in the name of religious freedom.(but this do not diminish the responsability of the moslem community!)
Most people are ignorant of the real problem, the root cause of problem. The problem is not a few extremists, or a few muslim radicals. The real problem is something that is ignored by the media, academia, politicians, and most others. The real problem is orthodox Islamic theology, which is militant in it's devotion to supremism and totalitarianism. Now, before you disagree with this statement, have you studied the tenants of orthodox Islamic theology, as proscribed by the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, such as Al Azhar University in Cairo, the premiere school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence? If you have not done so, you are ignorant and your comments are based on feelings, not facts. Remember, it does not matter what some muslim might say, or even how a muslim might be living his/her life... many faithful in many religions do NOT live out and act on the tenants of their faith. What does really matter is what orthodox Islamic theology states, what is taught in most of the mosques in the world, about how Islam is to relate to not only muslim believers, but also expecially the non-mulims of the world, the kafirs (non-muslims). Until this is understood and non-muslims understand that Islam is NOT like any other religion, for many reasons, including the fact that Islam expects to control all human behaviors with no separation of church and state, we will continually be trying to appease Islam, and this can not be done. All freedome loving people need to wake up and recognize the real problem so that it can be confronted, both in it's stealthly and violent manifestations of it's supremist nature.
Islam = Fascism.
He's right. Most of the liberals have no understanding of orthodox islam, and they label all of Islam's critics as "Islamophobic".
Just because you use lots of words doesn't mean you actually appear less ignorant.
>> Islam = Fascism <<
brave words from people who gave us Hitler!
RS47 is correct. Futhermore, at the rate of Muslim population growth, Europe will be predominantly Muslim by 2026, and America by 2050 - which should have all Christians praying more than ever before, because as RS47 says, Islam is like no other religion we know. Women in particular will be victimized as never before. Thus, women of all other relgions should take note and contact their congressmen and women now, before it is too late. Sharia Law will desimate women in particular.
One need only look to European states that allowed millions of Muslims to enter their countries, but who now admit it was a huge mistake. America must resist the Muslim generated smoke screen of labeling those who do not want what Islamic countries have as Islamophobia. The best clear answer to protecting American values and ways of life is to seriously limit Muslim immigration. Please write, email, and call your legislators in Washington and demand they safeguard America by not opening the door to those who will do us harm. The Muslims who are already here and living peacefully should be left to pursue the American dream, which I hope we are all waking up from now.
All major religions in the world in there orthodox form are like Islam and are open to interpretation, and that is the reason we have somany sects wethin each major religion, to single out any 1 religion based on TV propoganda is not appropriate, just because US News dont carry news about attrocities commited by other religion or hide there religion when they carry news about them dose not mean they do not exist.
There is a world of information beyound FOX News and Fox Radio
Please familiarize yourselves with this word. TAQIYYA. We are all being fooled. King, we all support what your doing, and if most do not, they dont know the power of this word and will support you in the future.
YOU, are the biggest effin moron on this planet! Don't be scared you sad little weiney. You're so upset that white people won't be the majority in america. Keep up the racist propaganda. We're targeting your kind first.