WGN: Chicago Muslims Respond to King Hearing

CHICAGO, New York – Congressman Peter King says he doesn’t want to “demonize anyone” when the House Homeland Security Committee looks into the radicalization of American Muslims.

The Republican says Thursday’s hearing is meant to look at how American Muslims are being convinced by extremists to turn against the United States.

Critics of King say he’s lumping all Muslims together with terrorists.

“Everyone is telling me to go ahead with it,” King said. “My district, I think, it is a good barometer. Nobody in my district didn’t know somebody who was killed on September 11. It is still very personal.”

Muslim Americans in Chicago call Thursday’s hearings embarrassing; Embarrassing to Muslims and Embarrassing to Americans as a whole.

Members of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, say the Muslim community has been unfairly targeted and efforts to root out radicalism in America have failed.

The result is America is no better off today than it was yesterday when it comes to representing the intentions and the population of the Muslim people in the United States.

Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim-American in Congress, testified today and said the hearings could backfire.

“Ascribing evil acts of a few individuals to an entire community is wrong. Its is ineffective and it risks making our country less safe.” said Ellison.

Word of the hearings led to pro and against rallies in New York.

Some Muslim-Americans and civil rights groups call the hearings a witch hunt against Islam.

“The proposed hearing virtually casts doubt on an entire community by virtue of its faith,” said Naeem Baig, from Islamic Circle of North America.

“Representative King’s two allegations that American-Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement and that 80-85 percent or their leadership are extremists are demonstratively false,” said Nihad Awad, from the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Despite the protests, King said the controversial hearings must and will go forward.

“To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness and an abdication of what I believe to be the main responsibility of this committee– to protect America from a terrorist attack.” said King.

Copyright © 2011, WGN-TV, Chicago