ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:
One day before the Homeland Security Committee’s hearing on “Radicalization in the American Muslim Community”, CAIR, the ACLU and Muslim groups denounced Rep. Peter King, R-NY, and his decision to hold the hearing, calling it a “political stunt”, and questioned his position as chairman of such an important committee in Congress.
“These hearings are nothing but a political stunt by a Representative King, who is well known for his flagrant anti-Muslim sentiments,” Naeem Baig, vice president for public affairs at the Islamic Circle of North America, said in a press conference.
“His bias towards the Muslim community make him even be unfit to lead a very, very important committee like homeland security in our Congress,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said.
Awad called King’s allegations against the Muslim community “demonstrably false.” At issue are King’s suggestions that American Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement officials and that 80 to 85 percent of their leadership are extremists. The groups argued that the Muslim community has substantially cooperated with law enforcement and has been instrumental in foiling many terrorist plots.
The groups admonished King for targeting the Muslim American community and pressed him to expand his query to other groups potentially fostering terrorism. They voiced their concern that King’s hearing would further vilify the Muslim American community.
“We are concerned that the hearings called by Representative Peter King will not uncover new information about criminality or radicalism in America,” Mohammad Dawood, president of the D.C. chapter of the Muslim American Society, said. “These proceedings will give voice to people with clear agendas against the very religion of Islam and those that have made a cottage industry out of the demonization of an entire religious community.”
Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, likened King to Rep. Joseph McCarthy and his anti-Communist endeavors in the 1950’s.
“The concern I have is the open and overt embrace of bias and xenophobia in a body, let’s be fair, that has done this before. The House Un-American Activities Committee was a central ingredient in the McCarthyism that Representative King now aims to replicate,” Buttar said.
But the executive director of CAIR did not overtly concur with Buttar’s assessment, saying instead that the aftermath of the hearing will indicate whether or not King bears the McCarthy label.
“I hope that he is not, but from the way he’s composing this hearing, the way he has been singling out, and stigmatizing the American Muslim community raises a lot of concern,” Awad said. “Many others have called him the McCarthy. It’s really up to him to show that he’s a McCarthy of the 21st century or he’s not.”
Today’s press conference consisted of representatives from CAIR, ACLU, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Islamic Circle of North America, My Faith, My Voice, Muslim American Society, Council of Muslim Organizations, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Election, and Northern Virginia Muslim Civic Coalition.