" ... King said that it would be pointless to study other communities because the problem of religious extremism is solely confined to Islam. ... "
Representative Peter King of Long Island will be holding open hearings this spring under the vague and controversial heading, "the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism," sparking criticism as to why King has specifically chosen Muslim communities as part of his investigation.
In response, King said that it would be pointless to study other communities because the problem of religious extremism is solely confined to Islam.
While we do not dispute that terrorism is a relevant and necessary topic within the political and public discourse, these hearings are neither provoked nor productive. By targeting the Muslim community at large, Rep. King is creating a defamatory, divisive and very public arena which enables baseless blame, insults and harassment toward Muslim communities.
These hearings were not, to our knowledge, sparked by any particular event, nor do they seek to address any specific instance of terrorism or group of terrorists. While we understand that a discussion of terrorism is essential to its prevention, the fact that these hearings will be carried out in a blunt, public arena is troubling. For the security and dignity of the Muslim community, as well as that of the United States, such studies should be carried out with discretion, outside of the public eye, and brought to public attention only when, and if, important information is uncovered.
These hearings will only serve to stir up further anti-Muslim racist sentiment in the US, similar to post-9/11 paranoia and last year's World Trade Center mosque dilemma. Numerous religious leaders including Rizwan Jaka, a board member of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society and Rabbi Mare Schneier, have come out both to criticize the unfair targeting of the Muslim community and to voice their desire to create a new, comprehensive and less inflammatory approach to terrorism.
If we are to better understand terrorism in the twenty-first century, we don't need hearings without a basis or an end-goal. Rather, we seek a comprehensive investigation that does not single out a single ethnic group in a worldwide issue. These investigations cannot come from a place of hate, as Rep. King exemplifies through his angry and inflammatory language. Instead, they need to be the result of a desire to understand and protect. For this to happen, a holistic, diverse and respectful investigation is crucial.