Muslims protest House hearing
They denounce Homeland Security’s talk on radicalization
George Hunter / The Detroit News
Dearborn— Local Arab-Americans on Sunday said a planned hearing by the head of the House Homeland Security Committee to discuss the radicalization of Muslims will only perpetuate stereotypes and demonize them.
Committee Chairman Peter King, R-NY, said Sunday that America’s Muslims aren’t cooperating enough with law enforcement to counter the radicalization of young followers by al-Qaida-linked groups. King plans to hold a hearing Thursday in Washington about religion’s role in motivating extremists.
“The overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding Americans, but at this stage in our history, there’s an effort … to radicalize elements within the Muslim community,” he said in an interview broadcast Sunday. “It’s there and that’s where the threat is coming from at this time.
“I don’t believe there is sufficient cooperation” by American Muslims with law enforcement, King said.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — Michigan, said the hearing “smacks of McCarthyism.”
“We don’t have a fundamental issue with a hearing discussing radicalization or domestic terrorism, but it should be approached in a holistic manner, and not just focus on one group,” said Walid, who was in Washington, D.C., Sunday to coordinate efforts to speak out against the hearing. “The vast majority of domestic terrorism in America is perpetrated by people who aren’t Arab or of the Islamic faith.”
Imad Hamad, head of the Dearborn-based American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said King is sending the wrong message.
“This brings back the shadow of suspicion and furthers the stereotype that Arab-Americans and Muslims are terrorists,” Hamad said. “This kind of dialogue does nothing but divide us — and the worst part is, this is our government. It isn’t a private person saying these things. It’s the head of Homeland Security.”
Mohamed Okdie of Detroit, former head of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, said he isn’t surprised by the latest developments.
“We’ve been fighting this fight all my adult life,” he said. “This is just more of the same.”