View Full Version : Congressional Hearings on American Muslims

March 6th, 2011, 06:48 PM
By Susannah Griffee
NBCNewYork.com NBCNewYork.com
updated 3/4/2011 5:16:23 PM ET 2011-03-04T22:16:23

Religious leaders, elected officials and advocates are planning a rally in Times Square Sunday protesting what they say are "un-American" congressional hearings on American Muslims. Republican Long Island Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, is holding the hearings, beginning next week, to examine “the disconnect between outstanding Muslims who contribute so much to the future of our country and those leaders who – for whatever reason – acquiesce in terror or ignore the threat,” according to on op-ed he wrote in Newsday.
Imam Shamsi Ali, of the Islamic Cultural Center, initially proposed the rally.
“We share Congressman King’s concern about the radicalization of our community, but by ‘our’ I mean everyone’s community,” said Ali. “Singling out the Muslim community is discrimination and it is something that is difficult to comprehend.”
King's office declined comment on the rally.
Ali doesn’t oppose the hearings themselves, but rather their singular focus on Muslim groups. “We would like to suggest that the hearing address the radicalization of our society in general, anywhere, in any community,” he said.
Ali will be joined by leaders from various faiths and backgrounds in unity and support of Muslim Americans.

The rally is centered around the slogan “Today, I am a Muslim Too,” and will feature speakers including Russell Simmons, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding President Rabbi Marc Schneier, and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Institute.
“I’m concerned that the hearings will lead to a greater alienation of Muslims and heightened bigotry and Islamophobia,” said Rabbi Schneier. “I disagree with Congressman King’s refusal to invite other faiths and ethnic leaders to testify on behalf of the Muslim community.”
Schneier believes that the hearings are “un-American.”
“If the Muslim community is under attack, their fight is my fight,” said Schneier. “Both Russell Simmons and I are very proud to be at the forefront of this effort.”
Councilwoman Helen Foster wrote a letter to King stating that "statements of generalization and accusations toward the Muslim-American community and their houses of worship throughout New York City is a complete disregard to this large population.”
The rally has more than 80 organizations supporting it.
“The rally is a good message for both Muslims and non-Muslims that our continued harmony and unity are needed for this time,” said Imam Ali.

March 6th, 2011, 07:01 PM
I went down there to take pics today....and they attempted to arrest me for - get this- Loitering, and Unruly Behavior-HA
The loitering charge was because I was standing- not moving- on a sidewalk, impeding pedestrian traffic- even though I was
standing on the curb up against one of their many security fences- not blocking anyone.
The unruly behavior came about when I tried to explain that the cop standing across the street, had just told me to take
my pictures from the very spot I was now standing. That's when he whipped out his cuffs... luckily another couple came over and
told this power crazy cop they were told the same thing. That with a threat of a lawsuit against him (the cop) in particular- got me
released with a warning. Gee Thanks!
Anyway I was only able to get two pics before the hassles began.
The good guys at the protest (the speakers were in the truck, under the flag with mics)
http://wirednewyork.com/forum/I%20went%20down%20there%20to%20take%20pics%20today ....and%20they%20attempted%20to%20arrest%20me%20fo r%20-%20get%20this-%20Loitering,%20and%20Unruly%20Behavior-HA%20The%20loitering%20charge%20was%20because%20I% 20was%20standing-%20not%20moving-%20on%20a%20sidewalk,%20impeding%20pedestrian%20tr affic-%20even%20though%20I%20was%20standing%20on%20the%2 0curb%20up%20against%20one%20of%20their%20many%20s ecurity%20fences-%20not%20blocking%20anyone.%20The%20unruly%20behav ior%20came%20about%20when%20I%20tried%20to%20expla in%20that%20the%20cop%20standing%20across%20the%20 street,%20had%20just%20told%20me%20to%20take%20my% 20pictures%20from%20the%20very%20spot%20I%20was%20 now%20standing.%20That%27s%20when%20he%20whipped%2 0out%20his%20cuffs...%20luckily%20another%20couple %20came%20over%20and%20told%20this%20power%20crazy %20cop%20they%20were%20told%20the%20same%20thing.% 20That%20with%20a%20threat%20of%20a%20lawsuit%20ag ainst%20him%20%28the%20cop%29%20in%20particular-%20he%20let%20me%20go%20with%20a%20warning.%20Gee% 20Thanks%21%20Anyway%20I%20was%20only%20able%20to% 20get%20two%20pics%20before%20the%20hassles%20bega n.%20The%20good%20guys%20at%20the%20protest:http://i211.photobucket.com/albums/bb276/scumonkey/more/thr-good-guys.jpg

and the bigots screaming "No Sharia law in this country", and other ignorant anti Muslim slurs,
at the counter rally on the next block down.
This couple was the loudest and worst, parading back and forth across the crosswalk.

March 6th, 2011, 07:58 PM
......... and the bigots screaming "No Sharia law in this country", and other ignorant anti Muslim slurs,
at the counter rally on the next block down.
This couple was the loudest and worst, parading back and forth across the crosswalk.

Seems you & I have very different ideas: sorry, but I think you are just wrong.

The best way "to demolish lies is to tell the truth". Ali and Haifa are here having a very interesting conversation (http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina50116.htm); I personally have found much I agree with in this exchange - I hope you find it as 'enlightening' as I have.


March 6th, 2011, 08:08 PM
Your allowed your opinion (much of which whole heartedly disagree with)- as am I... calling Muslims towel heads and camel jockeys.
nothing but racist bigots- period!
If you can't understand that then there is no hope for you (imho);)

March 6th, 2011, 09:26 PM
Not sure I get the point of these hearings, I can't imagine they will accomplish anything except maybe to raise tensions even more. IMO in general, the Islamic extremist is born of bitter malcontents who struggle to adapt to a modern world. Their limited worldview clashes with reality and the responsible demon they accuse is the Western lifestyl, instead of looking within and evolving. It's my observation that the worst offenders come from wealth and privilege, and are so bored with their lives that they seek to enlist poor young people and enslave their minds in a cult-like obsession with the most extreme interpretation of their religion. They spend their entire lives angry and bitter, and there's not much Peter King can do about that.

March 6th, 2011, 10:06 PM
It's become politically acceptable to attack all things Muslim - especially if you are devoid of any message that might help solve the problems that make these people so angry.

So focus their anger on a convenient target, get yourself elected, then do nothing.


March 6th, 2011, 11:08 PM
That vid is about as hate filled as it comes. Anybody who tries to claim that this is an example of demolishing lies by telling truth has a skewed view of humanity - particularly in regards to what the USA is truly about.

March 7th, 2011, 02:58 AM
The Catholic Church has a serious sex abuse issue. To pretend otherwise would be ridiculous. It's not about Catholics... it's about the people in charge.

Islam, on the other hand, has serious issues with radicalization and terrorism. Yet here we're supposed to pretend otherwise?

That said: I don't trust the motives of the GOP hearings



March 7th, 2011, 07:23 AM
The video is repulsive, but infoshare has posted a level-headed antidote above.

March 7th, 2011, 07:34 AM
Link below: How modern Muslims are protesting against Sharia law in Britain:



Meet Muslim feminist Gita Sahgal and her thoughts on Sharia: http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/jul/05/sharia-law-religious-courts


An interesting read. Could this be a concern in the US?:

"Islamic Family Arbitration, Justice and Human Rights in Britain"


March 7th, 2011, 08:27 AM
Here's the key:

Keep your arguments (and protests) seperate.

Saying you disagree and will object to and fight Shiara law is one thing, but resorting to ill-fitting slanderous euphamisims is not.

Since when does "Towel Head" reflect ANY political position? Really? I am sure the BILLIONS in India are all clammoring to become devout Muslim abiders and followers. It is just another lame labelling of a people that are different than what the protesters are. It is a visual association that people find easier to rant against than less apparent political leanings and beliefs.

It is a lot easier to beat up a turban-wearing man on the street than to stop him, ask him his views on Marriage and Religion, then proceed to pummel him when the first words out of his mouth are not "Well Jesus says...".

Fab, although I agree with you onwhat you are saying with the Catholic Church and how it has done wrong, and how the Islamic faith should also stand up to its own weaknesses and failings, I think the problem is how you stated it. It is NOT about Catholics in general, but the abuse of power in their ranks.

This curent xenephobic biogoted response is not well fitted. It is aimed like a sawed-off shotgun at a single man in a crowd and is completely unconcerned about who else it might hit.

Ignorance may be hereditary, but I am still trying to find out why so many are unwilling to find the cure.

March 7th, 2011, 08:37 AM
Fab...(....)...I think the problem is how you stated it.

It is NOT about Catholics in general, but the abuse of power in their ranks.

And I think the problem is one of reading comprehension.

I wrote the following:

It's not about Catholics... it's about the people in charge.

March 7th, 2011, 09:35 AM
Someone show me a video where all Catholics, including children, entering a building are screamed at, and told to "go back home."

March 7th, 2011, 09:44 AM
The video is repulsive, but infoshare has posted a level-headed antidote above.What would that be?

Seems to me that the message here (http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina50116.htm) usually leads to this. (http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/03/video-anti-muslim-rally-provokes-horror/35629/)

March 7th, 2011, 10:06 AM
Someone show me a video where all Catholics, including children, entering a building are screamed at, and told to "go back home."

That's where those anti-Islam protesters are wrong.

As I wrote "it's not about Catholics... it's about the people in charge." Same with Islam.

March 7th, 2011, 10:10 AM
What would that be?

Seems to me that the message here (http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina50116.htm) usually leads to this. (http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/03/video-anti-muslim-rally-provokes-horror/35629/)

Because idiots (those protesters) take an issue and run with it...and use it for their own agenda does not mean that there cannot be...or should not be ... discussion.

The article that Infoshare posted is excellent. Must there be a gag order...censorship... on the subject?

March 7th, 2011, 10:39 AM
The video is repulsive, but infoshare has posted a level-headed antidote above.

The crux of that antidote is found in the reply from Mr. Sina (http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina50116.htm):

A great number of Muslims realize there is something wrong with Islam, but they erroneously believe the problem can be solved through the miracle of reinterpretation ...

Islam cannot be reformed. But it can be eradicated. Reforming Islam means adding more lies to lies. For how long this huge edifice of lies can support itself?

... You and I must not attempt resuscitating Islam. On the contrary, we must hammer a stake into its heart and make sure it never raises its head again. This beast was a bloodsucking monster from the start.

Level-headed indeed.

March 7th, 2011, 10:48 AM

Forgive me Father for I have sinned: that's what happens when you don't read down far enough.

I got to "Nonetheless, the Jesus of the Bible is a saintly figure. He is the embodiment of goodness. So if you don’t mind believing in fairytales, Christianity can make you a good person." Sounded pretty levelheaded to me.

But even so... if the authour had said that Christianity was a bloodsucking monster from the start... would it bother anyone here?

March 7th, 2011, 11:04 AM
The crux of that antidote is found in the reply from Mr. Sina (http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina50116.htm):That's it exactly.

I said way back in the Cordoba thread that this would happen, that anger would be directed at all Muslims; in effect not only ignoring the actual problem, but fueling its spread. It's easy to direct your rage at people who you perceive to be fundamentally different [inferior]. That's the message of that webpage, under the guise of reasonable discussion.

It's what happened to Japanese-Americans and aliens during WWII. Internment was done under the pretense of national security, but the actual threat was ignored. There was a Japanese spy network in Hawaii at the time, but it was impractical to confine a large percentage of the population. So it was done on the West Coast, where there was widespread resentment of Japanese, who had taken American jobs. The country had endured a Depression, not unlike now.

March 7th, 2011, 11:05 AM
Now here's an antidote.

Take my Koran please.....!


March 7th, 2011, 11:06 AM
Seems to me that the message here (http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina50116.htm) usually leads to this. (http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/03/video-anti-muslim-rally-provokes-horror/35629/)

That simply tells me you didn't read the link.

Can it be beneath you?

March 7th, 2011, 11:09 AM
Actually, it seems you didn't read it...all of it.

EDIT: Or maybe not even the rest of the thread?

March 7th, 2011, 11:36 AM
White House Seeks to Allay Muslims’ Fears on Terror Hearings

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/us/politics/07muslim.html?hp)
March 6, 2011

STERLING, Va. — As a Republican congressman prepares to open hearings on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser visited a mosque here on Sunday to reassure Muslims that “we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few.”

The White House billed the speech by the adviser, Denis McDonough, as a chance for the administration to lay out its strategy for preventing violent extremism. But the timing was no accident; Mr. McDonough was in effect an emissary from the White House to pre-empt Representative Peter King of New York, the Homeland Security Committee chairman, who has promised a series of hearings beginning Thursday on the radicalization of American Muslims.

“In the United States of America, we don’t practice guilt by association,” Mr. McDonough told an interfaith but mostly Muslim audience of about 200 here at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, known as the Adams Center. “And let’s remember that just as violence and extremism are not unique to any one faith, the responsibility to oppose ignorance and violence rests with us all.”

Mr. McDonough made no explicit mention of the hearings or Mr. King. But his speech came on a day when the back-and-forth over Mr. King’s plans crescendoed, from the airwaves of Washington’s Sunday morning talk shows to the streets of Manhattan to this northern Virginia suburb, an area packed with Muslim professionals, many of whom are extremely wary of Mr. King and his plans.

In Washington, Mr. King, who represents parts of Long Island, faced off on CNN with Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and one of only two Muslims in Congress. Mr. Ellison said he would testify at Mr. King’s hearing on Thursday despite his deep conviction that it was wrong for Congress to investigate a particular religious minority.

In New York, 500 people demonstrated near Times Square to protest the hearings and to call on Mr. King to expand his witness list to include other groups.

“That’s absolute nonsense,” Mr. King said in a telephone interview, adding that Al Qaeda was trying to radicalize Muslims and that its effort was the leading homegrown terrorism threat.

“The threat is coming from the Muslim community,” he said, “the radicalization attempts are directed at the Muslim community. Why should I investigate other communities?”

As the Times Square demonstrators held up placards declaring “Today I am a Muslim too,” Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who is a co-founder of a project to develop an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero, addressed the crowd.

“To single out Muslim Americans as the source of homegrown terrorism and not examine all forms of violence motivated by extremist belief — that, my friends, is an injustice,” Rabbi Schneier said.

Mr. King and Mr. McDonough each took pains on Sunday to say that he had no quarrel with the other. “We welcome any involvement in the issue,” Mr. McDonough said of the hearings. “It’s an important issue.”

Mr. King said that he and Mr. McDonough had spoken recently and that he did not disagree with any element of Mr. McDonough’s speech at the mosque.

For weeks, Muslims have been expressing deep anxiety over the hearings, which Mr. King has titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response.”

He said witnesses would include Mr. Ellison; Representative Frank R. Wolf, Republican of Virginia; and Zudhi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. (Dr. Jasser made headlines last year when he was publicly critical of Mr. Obama’s statement supporting Muslims’ right to build a mosque and Islamic center near ground zero.)

In addition, Mr. King said on Sunday that he would call as witnesses two relatives of people who had been radicalized. He would not name them, but said that one had a nephew who was murdered and that the other had a son who committed “horrible crimes.” He said they would detail “how this happened, what it did to their families, what it did to the community, how this originated in mosques.”

The congressman said additional hearings — he is not certain how many there will be — would most likely focus on topics like radicalization in prisons and the flow of foreign money into mosques. But because Mr. King has not been specific about his plans, rumors are swirling.

“Everybody I talk to worries about it,” Mr. Ellison said during his Sunday morning appearance with Mr. King on “State of the Union” on CNN. He added, “It’s absolutely the right thing to do for the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee to investigate radicalization, but to say we’re going to investigate a — a religious minority and a particular one, I think, is the wrong course of action to take.”

Yet for many Muslim leaders, the initial outrage and fear is giving way to a determination to participate in the testimony and shape the outcome. Rizwan Jaka, a board member of the Adams Center here, said leaders of mainstream mosques were eager to testify about their cooperation with law enforcement.

“We’re ready to dialogue,” Mr. Jaka said. “We feel that we want to make sure we are part of the solution.”

Many counterterrorism officials say maintaining the trust of American Muslims is critical to attracting tips and foiling plots.

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of ignoring the Islamic nature of terrorism by preferring terms like “violent extremism,” a term that Mr. McDonough used frequently in Sunday’s speech.

“We have a choice,” Mr. McDonough said. “We can choose to send a message to certain Americans that they are somehow ‘less American’ because of their faith or how they look.”

“If we make that choice,” he added, “we risk feeding the very feelings of disenchantment that may push some members of that community to violent extremism.”

Mr. Obama has said from the outset of his presidency that he wants to reach out to Muslims; during a major speech in Cairo in June 2009, he called for a “new beginning” with the Muslim world. But the decision to weigh in at this moment — days before Mr. King’s hearings — is a tricky one for a president. Many Americans erroneously believe that Mr. Obama is Muslim (he is Christian), and he seems to generate controversy whenever he dips into such waters, as with the Manhattan mosque last year.

Mr. Jaka, of the Adams Center, said the White House had asked whether Mr. McDonough could come to deliver the administration’s message. Sunday’s event, in a brightly lighted gymnasium, was rife with interfaith symbolism; it began with a color guard ceremony led by Boy Scouts, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a reading from the Koran.

Mr. McDonough opened his speech by talking about his own Roman Catholic roots; his parents had 11 children, one of whom is now a priest.

“The bottom line is this,” Mr. McDonough said. “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.”

Joseph Berger contributed reporting from New York.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 7, 2011

An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to Representative Keith Ellison as the only Muslim in Congress. There is another, Representative André Carson of Indiana.

© 2011 The New York Times Company

March 7th, 2011, 11:51 AM
... the reply from Mr. Sina (http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina50116.htm):

Islam cannot be reformed. But it can be eradicated.

Imagine a World Without Islam

The Informed Reader Blog (http://blogs.wsj.com/informedreader/2008/01/03/imagine-a-world-without-islam/)
By Robin Moroney
JANUARY 3, 2008

What would the world be like without Islam? No clash of civilizations? No 9/11? No holy wars?

Actually, all of these events would likely have occurred, says Graham Fuller, a professor of history at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a former long-range forecaster for the Central Intelligence Agency. Take away Islam, and the world would still be left with the main forces that drive today’s conflicts (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2007/12/13/a_world_without_islam), including colonialism, cross-national ideologies, ethnic conflicts and terrorism, says Mr. Fuller in Foreign Policy.

Mr. Fuller ponders a litany of history’s major battles to drive home his message that while Islam might be a convenient culprit, but global strife, past and present, can’t be blamed on any one religion. Europeans would still have wanted the spoils of the Middle East and launched the Crusades, he says, albeit under a different banner. The West still would have tried various ways to get control of oil-rich areas. The French would still have gone into Algeria for its farm lands. The creation of Israel would still have displaced Palestinians, no matter what their religion.

The inhabitants of the Middle East wouldn’t be more comfortable with these events if they belonged to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the Middle East’s predominant religion when Mohammed arrived. In fact, a religious fissure between Western Europe and the Middle East would probably still exist, says Mr. Fuller, noting that Eastern Orthodox Christianity has an anti-Western narrative of its own dating back to the sacking of Constantinople in 1204 (http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/12/13/041213crbo_books).

True, without Islam, the people of the Middle East would lack a powerful, cross-border unifying force that sometimes is co-opted by a small number of people inclined toward violence. But the Middle East would have access to similar forces, such as Marxism or ethnic nationalism, that have served that purpose in other parts of the world. Indeed, in 2006, the European police force Europol said that only one of the 498 terrorist acts in the European Union was Islamist. The rest were largely committed by separatist and left-wing groups.

Copyright © 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

March 7th, 2011, 12:41 PM
It's not about Catholics... it's about the people in charge.

That is what I said. You really like to start fights.

Since when are "the people in charge" not the ones with power in the ranks? Not the "rank and file" mind you, but in the "Ranks" of the administrative and religious staff?

Not all statements are in contradiction to yours.

I was agreeing with you ya numbskull. (And disagreeing with your 'OTOH' statement after that)

So who needs work on Comprehension?

March 7th, 2011, 12:50 PM
would still be left with the main forces that drive today’s conflicts[/URL], including colonialism, cross-national ideologies, ethnic conflicts and terrorism[/B], says Mr. Fuller in Foreign Policy.

Science be Praised!

(Southpark ref, for those who needed the clue...)

March 7th, 2011, 01:29 PM
Ninja: well OK...I read the exchange again. I think some one is not getting it. It might be me...but it could be you. I guess when someone says "I think the problem is how you stated it." and then proceed to repeat exactly what I said, well, I tend to get confused.

March 8th, 2011, 07:55 AM
About that video of the nut case protesters wrapped in American flags: they were protesting a meeting of ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America).

Here's a video about ICNA (produced by ICNA).

It's a heartwarming jump to the past... back when men were men and women were chattle:


March 8th, 2011, 09:09 AM
The rally is centered around the slogan: Today, I am a Muslim Too,

As an openly gay man does that include me as well?

March 8th, 2011, 06:55 PM
I have two good friends who are gay and Muslim and we all attended the rally together (along with an Eastern Orthodox friend). You might have missed the point.

March 9th, 2011, 02:15 AM
You might have missed the point.

"Ich bin ein Berliner"


Op-Ed from today's NYTimes:

Fair to Muslims?
Published: March 8, 2011

MANY American Muslims are fearful and angry about the Congressional hearings on Islamic radicalism that will start Thursday, with some arguing that they are a mere provocation meant to incite bigotry. But as a scholar, I view the hearings, to be led by Representative Peter T. King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, as an opportunity to educate Americans about our community’s diversity and faith.

The topic is urgent, and the hearings overdue. It is undeniable that the phenomenon of homegrown terrorists appears to be increasing in frequency. A successful attack would set back relations between Muslims and non-Muslims for many years. The backlash would effectively sweep away the slow but steady progress in interfaith dialogue that has been achieved since 9/11.

Muslim leaders must acknowledge that many Americans are fearful of religiously motivated terrorism. Simply to protest the hearings and call for them to be canceled, as some have done, strikes many non-Muslims as uncooperative, or as intended to conceal dark secrets or un-American behavior.

Instead, Muslims should embrace the chance to explain their beliefs fully and clearly. We have nothing to hide. But members of Congress also need to act responsibly. They should avoid broad accusations, and be aware that the hearings will be closely followed worldwide. The actions of both groups will shape America’s relationship with Islam, and the relationship of American Muslims with their country.

To better understand the Muslim community and its attitudes toward American identity, I spent much of 2008 and 2009 traveling the United States. My research assistants and I visited 75 communities, from Dearborn, Mich., to Arab, Ala., and 100 mosques around the country. We conducted hundreds of interviews, and compiled some 2,000 responses to a long questionnaire.

We discovered that well before the debate last year over a proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, American Muslims felt under siege. We heard heartbreaking stories: schoolchildren assaulted as “terrorists,” women wearing the hijab attacked, and mosques vandalized and firebombed.

Adding to their sense of being unfairly singled out were commentators in the news media talking as if it were open season on Muslims. Bill O’Reilly compared the Koran to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” and Tom Tancredo, a Republican who was then a congressman from Colorado, said the United States could respond to a future terrorist attack by bombing Mecca.

But I also saw much to encourage me during my travels. Muslims told me in the privacy of their homes that this country was “the best place in the world to be Muslim.” A Nigerian in Houston said he placed Thomas Jefferson “at the top of my heart.” The bearded leader of a major Muslim organization called Jefferson, a defender of religious freedom, a role model.

In Paterson, N.J., an elderly woman from Cairo who got an education in America after her Egyptian husband deserted her told us, “America saved my life.” In the only mosque in the small city of Gadsden, Ala., we met a Muslim man who had lived in the area for decades and married a Christian woman. In a distinctively Southern accent, he summed up his identity as “Muslim by birth, Southern by the grace of God.”

The Muslim community in America is not a monolith. Very broadly, it comprises three groups: African-Americans (many of them converts), immigrants (largely from the Middle East and South Asia) and white converts. And Muslims from every part of the world study and work in the United States.

Yet the diversity of the Muslim community is frequently obscured by ignorance and mistrust. We were often asked by non-Muslims whether Muslims could be “good” Americans. The frequency with which this question was asked indicated the doubts that many harbored. Too many Americans acknowledged that they knew virtually nothing about Islam and said they had never met a Muslim.

Representative King, the New York Republican who has called the hearings, has raised the issue of Muslim cooperation with law enforcement agencies. On our journey, especially in mosques, we confronted an underlying unease and suspicion toward these agencies. Frequently, even while we were being welcomed and honored, people would ask us with a nervous laugh whether we were working for the F.B.I. The community complained that crude attempts by the agencies to “study” them were both insulting and ineffective. They believed that thinly disguised informants who claimed to be converting to Islam were acting as provocateurs.

In a Texas mosque dominated by the Salafi school of thought — widely equated with religious fundamentalism — the congregants condemned terrorism. They complained that the agencies had used clumsy infiltrators instead of simply talking to congregants. “Homeland Security and F.B.I. put us under surveillance, asking people, ‘Where are the terrorists?’” one interviewee, a Salafi who professed nonviolence, told us. “We know exactly where they are!”

At times, we did see evidence of the kind of extremist beliefs the hearing is intended to scrutinize. In one of the first mosques we visited in the Midwest, after I gave a talk advocating interfaith dialogue, I was accosted by members of the congregation who vehemently disagreed and dismissed my fieldwork because I had “white kids” with me. Later we learned that these men had threatened and assaulted other congregants who did not agree with them.

In our review of cases involving radicalized American Muslims, we learned that many homegrown terrorists said their actions were grounded in American foreign policy, particularly when it resulted in the deaths of women and children, rather than in their interpretations of Koranic precepts. In public statements, they expressed anger about American military and intelligence intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries. For example, Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani immigrant who confessed to the attempted car bombing in Times Square last May, was motivated by a desire to avenge drone strikes in his native province.

If a civil, respectful level of discussion and debate is not maintained in these hearings, and if a demonization of Muslims results, the news coverage in the Muslim world could feed into the high levels of anti-Americanism in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This would play against the interests of American diplomats and troops in Muslim nations who have advocated the winning of Muslim hearts and minds.

To better inform the public debate, Representative King should invite religious and social leaders who have credibility in their communities. Equally important, he should include scholars who could present empirical findings and analysis with neutrality and integrity. Unfortunately, some of the names who have been associated with the hearings so far have neither research nor credibility to support them.

At the same time, Muslims must realize that to be truly accepted as “good” Americans, they need to more explicitly embrace American identity, culture and history — from political debates like Representative King’s hearing to the ideals of this country’s founders.

America, in turn, must realize its best aspirations by better understanding Islam. No appreciation of the founders is complete without an acknowledgment of their truly pluralist vision.

March 20th, 2011, 01:12 PM
"Ich bin ein Berliner"The stupidity here is awesome.

March 20th, 2011, 02:45 PM
^ Yes, indeed.

(The use of a phrase to show solidarity with another populace was popularized in modern times with Kennedy's famous slogan, to which “Today, I am a Muslim Too" makes a cultural reference.)

March 20th, 2011, 02:59 PM
Missing the point about being gay and/or Muslim at the rally was a real show of ignorance...having the two brain cells required to repeat an old quote we all learned in 3rd grade doesn't redeem much.
More challenging: can you explain the intricacies of boiling pasta al dente?

March 20th, 2011, 04:55 PM
The hearings were a big nothing.

March 20th, 2011, 05:02 PM
I listened to part of it while working. Agreed, it was a big nothing. And notice that the left-leaning commentaters pretty much dropped the story. The proceedings were dull and I think more balanced than most expected.

March 20th, 2011, 05:23 PM
And allowed many Americans to see that, for the most part, there is little to fear from our Muslim countrymen.

March 20th, 2011, 06:43 PM
^ But much to fear about radical Islam.... it's proselytizers and followers.

Zuhdi Jasser's opening statement...sober, well said. Listen closely to what he says:

(handsome guy btw)


March 22nd, 2011, 12:26 PM
There's also much to fear from asteroids, running with scissors, and high fructose corn syrup. Boo.