Muslim-Americans and congressional hearings: a witch hunt or a necessity?
Last week, a video went viral on the Internet, showing an angry crowd shouting down Muslim women and children on their way to a community meeting. The video seemed to encapsulate a rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in the country. It was filmed a month ago, but its release, by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, heralded a week of intense coverage of Thursday's upcoming congressional hearings on the radicalization in Islam in the U.S.
Led by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the hearings are meant to ferret out information on the radicalization in young, American Muslims. However, its the focus on one religious group has outraged people.
Are these hearings a witch hunt, targeting only one group, or are they a necessary move to defend the country against home-grown terrorism?
"This will be remembered in history the same as we remember internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II," writes one Post reader MoBrien83. "It's not that Muslim extremism and the violence it breads is a non-threat; the problem is we are casting too wide a net."
Others take a more measured response to the hearings. On the Post's On Faith blog, David Wolpe writes:
First, there is a serious problem in Islam. In the mid-1990s, roughly half the ethnic conflicts in the world involved Muslims fighting each other or non-Muslims. The Economist concluded that Muslims were responsible for 11 and possibly 12 of 16 major acts of international terrorism between 1983 and 2000. To deny this is to court irrelevance, because it is true and urgent.
Second, Muslims in America in overwhelming numbers have been and continue to be law-abiding and in many cases exemplary citizens.
Third, the aim of law enforcement is to isolate and restrain terrorists; not Muslim or Christian or other terrorists, but terrorists in general.
The singling out of Muslim terrorists bothers The Post's Jonathan Capehart as well. "King has blinders on when it comes to home-grown extremism," he writes. "While he is right to worry about and call attention to radicalization grabbing a foothold among some in the Muslim community, King has ignored or eviscerated evidence of other forms of Made-in-the-U.S.A radicalism."
King and his supporters, however, stand by the hearings. The Post's Jennifer Rubin at the Right Turn blog writes:
The notion that we should ignore the obvious in an attempt to curry favor with "moderate" Muslims here in the U.S. and to avoid offending those overseas is badly misguided. For starters, it assumes that those audiences are infantile in their inability to distinguish, as the rest of us do, the difference between radicalized, murderous Islamic fundamentalists and those who pose no threat whatsoever. In doing so, we only serve to undermine the efforts of those non-radicalized Muslims abroad who could use some assistance, even if it is only rhetorical in pushing back against extremists.
The On Faith blog asked its panel of religious leaders to weigh in on the hearings and I'd like to hear your point of view. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has characterized the hearings as "a witch hunt."
| March 7, 2011; 5:01 PM ET
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