Answers to Peter King’s Claims About the American Muslim Community
by Sheila Musaji
Rep. Peter King has made a number of claims about the American Muslim community as justification for holding hearings with the title “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.”
The very title of the hearings seems to infer a foregone conclusion. And, it is not only Muslims who fear the implications. Rep. Michael M. Honda (D-CA) said Rep. King’s intent seems clear: To cast suspicion upon all Muslim Americans and to stoke the fires of anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia. By framing his hearings as an investigation of the American Muslim community, the implication is that we should be suspicious of our Muslim neighbors, co-workers or classmates solely on the basis of their religion.
Denis McDonough, Presidential Assistant said “We must resolve that, in our determination to protect our nation, we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few. In the United States of America, we don’t practice guilt by association. 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.”
Rep. Jackie Speier said To pinpoint Muslims as if they’re the only category—- it’s wrong, it’s discriminatory, it’s racist and inappropriate. Hearings aren’t supposed to be judged before they’re held. They’re supposed to be illuminating.
REP. PETER KING’S CLAIMS
Rep. Peter King has said:
— “85 percent of American Muslim community leaders are an enemy living amongst us”
— “no (American) Muslims cooperate in the war on terror”.
— “I would say, you could say that 80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists … Those who are in control. The average Muslim, no, they are loyal, but they don’t work, they don’t come forward, they don’t tell the police.”
— “Muslims Aren’t ‘American’ When It Comes To War” on Frank Gaffney program
— In 2006 King, sent two letters to several thousand, mainly Jewish, constituents in New York’s 3rd Congressional District. The letters condemn American Muslim leaders for “failing to unequivocally denounce Islamic terrorism.”
— King has been a vocal opponent of the Cordoba House and said “It’s a house of worship, but we are at war with Al Qaeda.”
— “The fact is while the overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding people, on the other hand 100% of the Islamic terrorists are Muslims, and that is our main enemy today.”
— “Unfortunately we have too many mosques in this country” and called for FBI surveillance and infiltration of mosques because that’s where terrorists were being “homegrown.” **
— ”... over 80 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams. Certainly from what I’ve seen and dealings I’ve had, that number seems accurate.” **
— I was extremely disappointed by so many leaders in the Muslim community who do not denounce Al Qaeda.”
— “It’s there and that’s where the threat is coming from at this time.”
— “Too many people are sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully. We should be finding out how we can infiltrate. We should be more aggressive with law enforcement.”
— “I think there has been a lack of full cooperation from too many people in the Muslim community.” **
— King called for a “full investigation” of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf because Rauf refused to condemn Hamas as a “terrorist organization.” **
— “I determined early on that to make the most meaningful impact, the lead witnesses would be Muslims who believe their community is being radicalized and that Muslim leaders are not sufficiently cooperating with law enforcement.” **
— King said that he did not expect to call any of the local law enforcement or counterintelligence experts who he said had told him repeatedly that noncooperation by American Muslims is a “significant issue.” He says they will say these things privately, but not in public.”
— “There’s a systematic effort to radicalize young Muslim men. It would be irresponsible of me not to have this investigation. If it was coming from some other demographic group, I would say the same thing.” **.
— “The great majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans. Yet a Pew Poll showed that 15 percent of Muslim Americans between 18 and 29 say suicide bombing is justified.” **
— Sean Hannity asked King to confirm he was saying 85 percent of mosques in America are “ruled by the extremists. King answered: “Yes, and I can get you the documentation on that from experts in the field. Talk to a Steve Emerson, talk to a [Daniel] Pipes, talk to any of those. They will tell you. It’s a real issue … . I’ll stand by that number of 85 percent. This is an enemy living amongst us.” **
— On the function of the Department of Homeland Security, King said: “The department was set up primarily to protect us from another terrorist attack from Islamic terrorists, and yet they talk about everything but that.”
— He said DHS should focus on the threat emanating from “Muslims” and “mosques” at home. ”[Napolitano] has never put out a report talking about look out for mosques. Look out for Islamic terrorists in our country. Look out for the fact that very few Muslims come forward to cooperate with the police. If they sent out a report saying that, there would be hell to pay.” **
— Muslims have a “misguided” belief that they were victimized by a backlash of hatred after the Sept. 11 attacks. The hate they feel is imagined, and Muslims need to put aside any fears they have towards official America and police. “I think a lot of that is a self-imposed fear they have, and that seemed to put them underground, put then in a sense of non-cooperation. I’m hoping that the hearing will bring this out, and encourage people in the Muslim community to come forward and realize that they should cooperate.”
During and after the first hearing King said:
— “There is no equivalency of threat between al Qaeda and Neo-Nazis, environmental extremists, or other isolated mad men. Only al-Qaeda and Islamist affiliates in this country are a part of an international threat to our nation.” **
— “Our hearings today were informative and educational and hopefully will have consequences in the Muslim American community.”
— And, surprisingly “I have said that there are too many mosques that do not cooperate with law enforcement, and I think the testimony today has backed that up.” **
— Asked to identify better leaders, King pointed to Zuhdi Jasser of AIFD who had just been his star witness and said “To me, a group like Dr. Jasser’s would be ideal,” and King called AIFD the organization “the most compatible with American values”. **
What King is implying is that:
— most of the mosques in the U.S. are run by radical/fundamentalist Imams
— mosques are where terrorists are being “homegrown”
— allowing mosques to be built supports al Qaeda
— most of the leaders of the American Muslim community are an enemy living amongst us
— American Muslim leaders have failed to unequivocally denounce terrorism and al Qaeda
— most (or all) American Muslims do not cooperate in the war on terror and so are not real Americans
— most American Muslims do not come forward, do not tell the police
— most terrorists are Muslims
— Muslim terrorists are our main enemy
— the biggest threat America is facing comes from Muslims
— this threat from extremist Muslims is greater than that from any other extremist group
— we can’t tell the good Muslims from the bad Muslims
— Muslims can’t be trusted
— Muslims are such a special threat that we need to have special Congressional hearings to focus only on them
— Look out for mosques, look out for “Islamic” terrorists
— The Dept. of Homeland Security was established to protect us from “Islamic terrorists”
— Anyone who doesn’t condemn any terrorist organization should be investigated
— Even law enforcement officials are so fearful of Muslims that they won’t state their concerns publically
— King knows Muslim individuals and organizations that he believes would make better leaders for the American Muslim community
Summarizing: Some of King’s comments are so ridiculous that it is difficult to believe they were made by a Congressman.
— Unless you believe that all Muslims are somehow supportive of or connected with Al Qaeda, what does a war with Al Qaeda have to do with American Muslims building a community center or a mosque? Most Muslims are at war with Al Qaeda.
— Of course 100% of Islamic terrorists are Muslims. That however doesn’t say anything about the majority of terrorists, and that majority are not Muslims.
— It is obvious that most terrorism is coming from some other demographic group, and King is not “saying the same thing” about that uncomfortable fact.
— The Muslims that he will be calling as witnesses are those who agree with him. In order to be considered as a witness, a witness would have to agree that “Muslim leaders are not sufficiently cooperating with law enforcement”.
— Law enforcement experts believe Muslims are not cooperating and have told him so, but he can’t say who has said this, or call them to testify. We will have to trust Rep. King that there are law enforcement experts or officials who know about cases of non-cooperation that might put Americans in danger, but they are not willing to say this in public. I believe that should call for a separate hearing.
— Basically, we should be very suspicious of Muslims, and particularly of mosques and religious leaders and Imams.
— If American Muslims are not real Americans then they are an “enemy within”
— The Dept. of Homeland Security is only interested in protecting us from terrorist attacks by Muslims. Since the overwhelming majority of terrorists are not Muslims, this statement gives me no peace of mind.
— Rep. King and/or the Homeland Security Committee has some interest in identifying and promoting individuals and organizations to be the new leadership of the American Muslim community. This is terrifying.
What King has said and inferred is bad enough. His hearings gave an opportunity to lots of other bigots to express themselves in public with what most Americans will take to be government approval of their bigotry.
For example, during the first hearing this is some of what we heard without any hard facts to back up the allegations: **
— Rep. Cravaack - CAIR “is a terrorist organization”.
— Rep. Duncan - warned of “the threat of Sharia law to the U.S. constitution.”
— Rep. Lungren - compared investigation of the American Muslim community to investigation of Nazi war criminals in the U.S.
— Rep. McCaul - “We have to know our enemy, and it is radical Islam in my judgment.”
But, we have nothing to worry about since Rep. Marino told us that he has “many friends who are Muslims.” Read many more such statements both before and during these hearings here
The first hearing itself served no purpose. At the end of the day, there were no actual hard facts that were brought out. The only witness that had any hard facts was Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. What we heard were emotional personal stories, opinions, allegations, stereotypes, and innuendo. The credibility and expertise of the few witnesses called has also been challenged.
HAVE MUSLIM LEADERS, ORGANIZATIONS, AND INDIVIDUALS FAILED TO UNEQUIVOCALLY DENOUNCE TERRORISM, EXTREMISM AND AL QAEDA?
All anyone has to do is go to The American Muslim homepage, click on the Muslims Denounce Terrorism Logo at the top of the page, and you will see a huge list of Muslim condemnations of terrorism and extremism, fatwas by Islamic scholars, statements by Muslim organizations, statements by individuals, statements by leaders of the American Muslim community, etc. There is no excuse for not knowing about the fact that hundreds of community leaders and scholars and every recognized national organization have issued strong statements.
American Muslims have spoken out loudly and frequently, but are mostly ignored. It seems that we are invisible as far as the mainstream press is concerned.
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on the issue of radicalization and said “It is critical that we recognize that American Muslims have been, and will continue to be, a highly valued part of the fabric of our Nation. American Muslims have been outspoken in their opposition to terrorist violence and have been strong contributors to our country for many generations.”
ARE MOST TERRORISTS MUSLIMS?
TAM has a lengthy article collection Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history This article lists studies, government reports, and other documentation, and incidents from the 1970’s to the present time.
Since 2000 alone here are some of the terrorist incidents involving non-Muslims
- Jim D. Adkisson opened fire in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville TN killing two and injuring seven (a note found in his SUV indicated this was intended as a suicide attack and said the church was apparently targeted because of its support of liberal social policies),
- The Animal Liberation Front targeted a UCLA professor with a firebomb due to her research on animals,
- John Patrick Bedell, an anti-government extremist walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.
- Kody Brittingham, a Marine is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.
- Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded many others at Virginia Tech before committing suicide,
- Demetrius Van Crocker a white supremacist from rural TN attempted to acquire Sarin nerve gas and C-4 explosives that he planned to use to destroy government buildings,
- James Cummings dirty bomb plot, -Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear “dirty bomb” in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.
- Earth Liberation Front members plead guilty to burning The Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington.
- Matt Hale of the World Church of the Creator was convicted in 2004 of soliciting the murder of Chicago federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow
- Jeffrey Harbin who has ties to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) and was formerly a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, arrested for transporting 12 grenade-like improvised explosive devices.
- Lucas John Helder rigged pipe bombs in private mailboxes to explode when the boxes were opened, He injured 6 people in Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, Illinois, and Iowa. His motivation was to garner media attention so that he could spread a message denouncing government control over daily lives and the illegality of marijuana.
- Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe threw a Molotov cocktail at a clinic in Shreveport, LA,
- Hutaree militia. Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.
- An Idaho Mountain Militia Boys plot to kill a judge an a police officer and break a friend out of jail is uncovered,
- Vadim Ignatov shooting attack on Muslim home in Oregon
- Bruce Ivins anthrax attacks kill five across the U.S. with politicians and media officials as the apparent targets,
- JDL plot by Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel to blow up the King Fahd Mosque and the office of Congressman Darrell Issa in CA foiled,
- Jerry and Joe Kane, two “sovereign citizens” gunned down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.
- William Krar is charged for his part in the Tyler poison gas plot, a white supremacist related plan, his weapons cache included a half a million rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers, and remote-controlled bombs disguised as briefcases.
- James J. Lee wearing explosives and carrying a gun took hostages at the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland before being killed by police. He was protesting the channel’s “anti environmental” message and programming encouraging birth of humans who he called filthy
- Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged mass murderer who shot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona at a political gathering
- Keith Luke went on shooting spree in MA to kill as many non whites and Jews as possible,
- Dennis & Daniel Mahon send mail bombs to a diversity office in Scottsdale AZ that injure three,
- Alberto Martinez - two officers were killed at Forward Operating Base Danger in Tikrit, Iraq by a deliberately placed mine, Staff Sergeant Alberto B. Martinez was charged, but was acquitted in a court martial trial at Fort Bragg, NC,
- Justin Carl Moose plot to bomb abortion clinics. The FBI alleges he referred to himself as the “Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden”
- Donny Eugene Mower was arrested on federal charges of attacking a reproductive health clinic in Madera CA, and authorities said he also is responsible for vandalism and menacing signs left at the city’s Islamic center.
- Robert Pickett discharged a number of shots from a weapon in the direction of the White House,
- Richard Andrew Poplawski - Three Pittsburgh police officers are fatally shot and a fourth wounded by Richard Andrew Poplawski, who had posted his racist and anti-Semitic views on white supremacist websites.
- Project 7, two members are arrested plotting to kill judges and law enforcement officials in order to kick off a revolution,
- Charles Carl Roberts IV went into an Amish school in Lancaster County, PA and killed 5 girls before committing suicide,
- Scott Roeder Assassination of Dr. George Tiller
- Kyle Shaw bombing of a Starbucks in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, police said his motive was to emulate “Project Mayhem” a series of assaults on corporate America
- Joseph Stack’s suicide flight into an IRS building.
- Roger Stockham was arrested in a car laden with explosives outside one of the nation’s largest mosques in Dearborn MI
- Texas Militia former leaders plot to attack the Federal Building in Houston, a Catholic priest drove his car into the Northern Illinois Health Clinic and pulled out an ax before being shot at by a security guard,
- Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, a pair of “Patriot” movement radicals who wanted “to attack the political infrastructure”—threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.
- Jomar Falu Vives a Fort Carson, CO soldier and Iraq war veteran accused of killing 2 people and wounding another in drive-by shootings,
- U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting by James Wenneker von Brunn,
- Clayton Waagner mailed hoax letters containing a white powder to 554 clinics,
- white supremacists planned to bomb a series of institutions associated with the black and Jewish communities including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum,
- Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend on the Red Lake, MN Chippewa reservation, then went to Red Lake H.S. where he killed 7 people and wounded 5 others before committing suicide,
- Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.
Even before adding in shootings, bombings and arson attacks on mosques and violent attacks on individual Muslims or individuals perceived to be Muslim, it is glaringly obvious that attempting to defend the claim that most terrorist incidents involve Muslims can only result from ignorance or outright bigotry.
Additionally, many studies and databases show the extent of terrorist threats from a variety of sources .....
Loonwatch has also published a must read article All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% that Aren’t which takes information from an FBI report, analyzes the list of incidents and creates an interesting pie chart that makes all the information come clearly into focus. A second report noted by Loonwatch discusses a Europol Report ** which shows that in Europe, All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 99.6% that Aren’t.
Rep. King said that if a threat was coming from any other community, he would investigate that. Obviously, the threat is coming from many communities. This question relates to the scope of the hearings and their possible ability to make us all safer. Rep. King has refused to consider expanding the scope.
HAVE AMERICAN MUSLIMS RESPONDED TO THE ISSUE OF RADICALIZATION?
This question has been answered in the following articles:
1) Existing reports and studies on radicalization in the American Muslim Community which lists studies and counter-terrorism and anti-radicalization efforts by Muslim as well as non-Muslim organizations.
2) Elected Representatives & Government Officials Who HAVE Questioned Islamophobia which lists many statements that counter this claim.
Additionally, Ingrid Mattson wrote:
I would have loved to have testified at the hearings to describe how an urgent desire to understand the threat and effective responses to it overwhelmed my attention when I was vice-president, then president of the Islamic Society of North America from 2001-2010. I spent hundreds of hours in meetings discussing this, not only with other Muslim leaders in the United States and internationally, but with members of the U.S. Congress, officials in the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Justice—and most of this during the Republican administration of George W. Bush.
For someone trained as a scholar of pre-modern, classical Islam at the University of Chicago, I often felt unprepared to deal with these issues. Given my responsibility to serve the Muslim community in this time of crisis, I worked hard to get my head around the social science and intelligence discussions. I combed the library and the internet for articles about radicalization, the methods of cults, modern political theories of religious violence and terrorism like Robert Pape’s Dying to Win. There seems to be an assumption by some committee members that all Muslims, by virtue of their faith, have special insight about al-Qaeda; there is no basis for this assumption. I had to turn to non-Muslim intelligence experts and historians, like Lawrence Wright who wrote The Looming Towers, to understand something about this shadowy and marginalized, but extremely dangerous terrorist cult.
... So other than meeting with government officials and policy specialists, I worked individually as a scholar to write about the sources in Islamic ethics and history that refute the terrorists’ message. I wrote that “American Muslims Have a Special Obligation” to address crimes and violence in the name of Islam; immediately after 9/11 and many times thereafter, I have drawn attention to the ethical responses of many American Christians and Jews to anti-Muslim rhetoric, to refute the idea that Americans are at war with Islam; in the wake of the UK terrorist attacks of 7/7, I wrote “A Call for Moral Leadership: Imagining a New Heroism”, in which I argued that we have to find ways to unravel the deluded heroic narrative the terrorists spin for themselves; and in my book The Story of the Qur’an, I traced the origins of literalist and decontextualized readings of the Quran among the earliest Muslim militant extremists. I have not counted the speeches I gave to Muslim and general audiences about these topics, but there were certainly over a hundred.
I did not write this column to talk about myself, but to use myself as an example of an American Muslim leader who has spared no effort to address, in my limited capacity, the real threat of terrorists acting in the name of Islam. In addition to my individual efforts, I was able to work with other leaders at ISNA and with other American Muslim organizations, like the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Muslim Advocates to organize dozens of conferences, panels, educational forums and meetings to address these issues with the greater Muslim community. We issued fatwas and statements condemning terrorism and lately, realizing the danger of the new phenomena of internet recruiting, have developed videos and other materials to counter the terrorists’ message.
My message to Peter King and to the witnesses who have been called to testify is this: why don’t you ask us what we have done? But more helpful for all of us—let’s get together and see whether our efforts and yours have made any positive impact, or if there are other things we can do to be more effective in our messaging. The reality is that all of the recommendations Peter King’s witness Zuhdi Jasser made today have already been done by Muslim American organizations. But despite our best efforts, we will never be experts in counter-terrorism and we need partners and support to extend our reach. **
ARE MOSQUES THE SOURCE OF RADICALIZATION?
The authors of the MAPOS STUDY report Despite the popularized idea that Muslims are radicalized around the country in mosques, we find that, overwhelmingly, mosques help Muslims integrate into U.S. society, and in fact have a very productive role in bridging the differences between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States. ** The study also found that shows that among Muslims who do not attend religious services regularly, 77 percent answered “yes” when asked whether Islam and American political values are compatible. Among those who are regularly involved in a mosque, that figure rose to 95 percent. **
A study performed by researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina, ANTI-TERROR LESSONS OF MUSLIM AMERICANS found that mosques actually serve as a deterrent to terrorism. According to the study, many mosque leaders have put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring antiviolence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts.
Many studies proving the opposite of this claim here
ARE 80 TO 85% OF MOSQUES RUN BY RADICALS?
This claim by Rep. King and others is based on nothing at all. The first time it was stated was by Sheikh Hisham Kabbani in 1999. It is a number taken from thin air. There have been no studies or anything else to support such a baseless claim. And, Sheikh Kabbani subsequently said that his criteria of an “extremist mosque” was one that was “focus[ed] on the Palestinian struggle.” A history of this claim and how it spread here.
Karen Leonard, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, and author of numerous books, including Muslims in the United States: The State of Research, called the claim that 85 percent of mosques are run by extremists “nonsense”. “American Muslim mosques are run very differently from those in many of the immigrants’ home countries, and by adopting a “congregational” model in order to qualify for tax exemption in the U.S., most immigrant mosques now have constitutions and elected governing boards and the elections are open to public scrutiny, thus bringing up, for example, questions about the participation of women as voters or board members. Board members are usually highly educated professionals, and they hire imams, mostly still from abroad since American seminaries producing imams here are just beginning to be established. If an imam is too extreme he will not be hired or retained, in my experience; I know of no extremist mosque in southern California.” **
It is one of what I call everyone “knows” claims about Islam and Muslims that has no basis in fact.
There is a long list of bigoted propaganda stating some “fact” that everyone “knows” which are all, quite simply, not facts at all. These are claims that have no basis in fact, but are repeated over and over until most people just accept them as true. They become memes and are transmitted like a virus from person to person. You can find responses to hundreds of such claims here.
The most commonly repeated claims about Muslims and Islam are that:
Everyone “knows” that most or all terrorists are Muslims, and there are no Christian and no Jewish terrorists (or terrorists of any other religious stripe), and that Muslims are all militant and inherently violent.
Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not equivalent to real Americans, that they are the enemy within, and a fifth column, that good Muslims can’t be good Americans, that they are not a part of our American heritage,
Everyone “knows” that Islam itself is the problem and makes Muslims “backward”, that Muslims have made no contribution to the West, that Islam is “of the devil”, a Crescent menace, and an “evil encroaching on the United States”, and not a religion.
Everyone “knows” that this is a Christian nation, which the Muslims are trying to take over, starting with getting an Eid stamp which is the first step towards shariah law which is a threat to America, and by purposefully having more children than others to increase their numbers.
The problem is that what “everyone knows” is wrong. These self-righteous and incorrect statements are usually followed by a demand that the Muslim community do something about whatever is the false flag of the day or face the inevitable consequences.
It is a serious concern to see Rep. King and other elected representatives and government officials resorting to such bigotry rather than attempting to find facts.
DO POLLS SHOW THAT MUSLIMS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE RADICALIZED TO TERRORISM?
This is yet another instance where King only includes partial “facts”, or only those “facts” that support his biases. If King is concerned about radicalization then he might look at a number of polls in our TAM collection Polls and Surveys relating to Islam and Muslims.
The PEW poll he refers to was done in 2007, and one of the findings was that 15% of young Muslims, between the ages of 18 and 29, consider suicide bombing justified “often” (2%) or “sometimes” (13%). If you add the young Muslims who “rarely” (11%) approve (but approve nonetheless) such bombings, that would be about one-in-four Muslim youth who think that blowing oneself up to kill others can in some ways be rationalized. While 80% of American Muslims oppose attacks on civilians according to the Pew poll, 13% said some circumstances may justify such attacks.
If the poll is accurate, that is a genuine concern, and one that the American Muslim community has been working on. For example, Malik Mujahid, a long-time community leader has suggested that the Muslim community must reallocate its resources to focus on young people. The Muslim community in the United States is a strong and self-reliant community. It is pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars every year in Islamic education. However, most of these funds are going into Islamic schools. This author is personally committed to Muslim schools. However, these institutions educate less than a one percent of Muslim students. The above described challenge requires our community to reallocate a substantial amount of its resources to reaching out to it’s youth in public schools and campuses for supplemental education, moral support and counseling. Just looking at five campuses in Chicago, I noticed that Hillel chapters, which represent Jewish students, have more than 30 full-time staff including rabbis. However, there is not a single full-time or part-time staff member at Muslim organizations on campus, much less an Islamic scholar. We can learn a great deal from the Jewish community in the U.S. in their struggle to keep young Jews connected to their Jewish heritage and community. Sound Vision intends to develop a great amount of content this year focused on topics like Islam in a pluralistic context and discussing objections to Islam. However, we and others who have been concerned about the challenges and frustrations of Muslim youth in America are unable to do much because of the absence of resources.
Here are just a few examples of polls that counter Peter King’s understanding that the PEW poll showed Muslims to be more likely to hold views in support of terrorism.
A University of Maryland, Program on International Public Attitudes Poll found That 46% of Americans think that “bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” are “never justified,” while 24% believe these attacks are “often or sometimes justified.” - Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.
A Cornell University poll found that found 44% of Americans favor at least some restrictions on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Another poll found that nearly 30% responded favorably to the ideas of requiring Muslims to register with the federal government, having undercover agents infiltrate Muslim organizations, and permitting the government to engage in racial profiling.
A First Amendment Center Survey found that most Americans think the founders wanted a Christian U.S. University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality poll shows that committed tea party supporters in Washington state are, by significant majorities, hostile to civil rights for African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBT people.
A CNN Poll examining religious views in the United States found that 59% of Christians are more likely to describe themselves as Christian first and American second (12% higher than the recent PEW Poll of American Muslim attitudes). 53% of Christian Americans are now less likely to see the possibility for peace between Islam and Christianity and 53% think conflict is inevitable between the two religions, up from 45 percent in 2003. 57 percent say they believe the Book of Revelations’ description of the violent end of the world, where all but Christians perish. Nearly one in five believes it will happen in their lifetime. This is not surprising since 42% of Americans saw themselves as “Christian first” as opposed to “American first” according to a Pew Global Attitudes Project national survey conducted in 2006.
More non-Muslim Americans think that attacks on civilians may be justified than do American Muslims according to these polls. Wouldn’t this be an excellent reason to broaden the scope of these hearings, and study radicalization, no matter where it is found?
HAVE MUSLIMS FAILED TO COME FORWARD AND TELL LAW ENFORCEMENT? - ARE AMERICAN MUSLIMS UNCOOPERATIVE WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT?
Actually many individuals who have been arrested for terrorist plots and activities were turned in by members of the Muslim community. These include: Craig Monteilh, Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, Times Square bomber, the Oregon jihadist, Lackawanna six, Paintball 11 in VA, Matin Siraj plot in NY , Daniel Boyd in NC, 5 Muslim men who went to Pakistan from VA, Farooque Ahmed subway plotter. Muslims have also helped by infiltrating al Qaeda. There are many American Muslims promoting non-violent solutions including people like John Muhammed Butt working with Taliban.
Los Angeles County sheriff Lee Baca said that there is nothing to support King’s view that American Muslims are being uncooperative with law enforcement. “If he has evidence of non-cooperation, he should bring it forward.”
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, stated before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee: “And every opportunity I have, I re-affirm the fact that 99.9 percent of Muslim-Americans or Sikh-Americans, Arab-Americans are every bit as patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States.”
Attorney General Eric Holder said “The Muslim community…have contributed significantly to the resolution of many things that we have resolved over the course last 12 to 18 months….Tips that we have received, information that has been shared has been critical to our efforts to disrupt plots that otherwise might have occurred.” He also said: “Members of the American Muslim community have been—and continue to be—strong partners in fighting this emerging threat [of
terrorism]. They have regularly denounced terrorist acts and those who carry them out. And they have provided critical assistance to law enforcement in helping to disrupt terrorist plots and combat radicalization.”
Perhaps Rep. King is unaware of the FBI award given to Imam Yahya Hendi for community leadership, and perhaps he questions the State Dept. sending Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on a speaking tour to improve relations between the U.S. and Muslim countries? Many Muslim Imams, leaders and organizations have received awards and acknowledgements.
Perhaps Rep. King is unaware that The American Muslim along with a number of other Muslim efforts was mentioned in The Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University’s report on internet-facilitated radicalization entitled: “NETworked Radicalization: A Counter-Strategy”
ARE AMERICAN MUSLIMS “NOT AMERICAN” WHEN IT COMES TO WAR?
And Rep. King must not be aware that there are many American Muslims who are part of law enforcement (e.g. Khalid Latif and the thousands of other Muslims in law enforcement, or all of the Muslims and Arabs in the U.S. Military. Over 3,500 Muslims are currently serving in the military, 212 have received combat action ribbons, and 7 have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. How about the Muslim Congressmen, or judges? Muslims are a part of America. All of these are made invisible by the likes of Rep. King.
ARE THESE NARROWLY FOCUSED HEARINGS LIKELY TO MAKE US SAFER?
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D.-Miss), the ranking member on the Homeland Security Comittee has said
The Sept. 11 commissioners had it right when they said, “The U.S. has to help defeat an ideology, not just a group of people.”
Americans have almost been conditioned to believe that the majority of people who seek to do us harm are those of Muslim descent. Capitalizing on this fear, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) wants to hold narrowly focused hearings — only on the threat posed by foreign jihadist groups.
If law enforcement officials have told King that the Muslim community has been systematically uncooperative and wholly prone to radicalization, as he has repeatedly stated, I invite those officials to step forward.
In fact, tips from the Muslim community have directly led to foiling numerous plots — including the case of the Northern Virginia Five and the Times Square bomb plot.
When I served as the committee chairman in the 111th Congress, the panel regularly heard testimony from top law enforcement and intelligence officials. None of these officials has backed King’s assertions that the Muslim community has not been helpful in thwarting terrorist attacks.
While I agree that homegrown terrorism and the jihadist threat deserve continuing attention, a single-minded approach ignores all other threats.
Today’s terrorists do not share a particular ethnic, educational or socioeconomic background. Recently, when state law enforcement agencies were asked to identify terror groups in their states, Muslim extremist groups ranked 11th on a list of 18.
Law enforcement agencies identified neo-Nazis, environmental extremists and anti-tax groups as more prevalent than Muslim terrorist organizations. The sophisticated explosive device found along a parade route in Washington on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an act of domestic terrorism clearly motivated by racist ideology, should prove that other groups are just as willing and able to carry out horrific attacks on Americans.
In addition, terrorist groups are not our only threat. According to the Department of Homeland Security, “lone wolves and small terrorist cells” may be the single most dangerous threat we face. Attacks are just as likely to come from lone-wolf extremists — like James Wenneker von Brunn, the Holocaust Memorial Museum shooter, or Jared Lee Loughner, who is charged with the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz. — as they are from Muslim extremist groups.
And what do von Brunn and Loughner have in common with Muslim extremists like Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, and Colleen LaRose, also known as Jihad Jane? All allegedly espoused radical views on the Internet through extremist websites, chat rooms and popular sites like Facebook.
This starkly illustrates what should be common sense: The most effective means of identifying terrorists is through their behavior — not ethnicity, race or religion.
While knowing these facts puts us at an advantage, just being aware is not enough. The nation’s law enforcement resources are already stretched thin. We must ensure that we are using these resources to yield the best results.
Devoting all of our assets to investigate only the Muslim community leaves a gaping hole in our security. Holding hearings is not only likely to increase the level of government mistrust within the community, but it will weaken counterterrorism cooperation by ignoring the long history of Muslim cooperation. Poisoning this relationship through inquisition-style hearings would substantially risk losing this crucial cooperation.
We must maximize our efforts to counter violent extremism, radicalization and recruitment in the United States, and stop using xenophobia and ethnic stereotyping. If we are going to move forward and protect this nation, we must recognize trends in terrorist activity.
We cannot cripple ourselves by ignoring the fact that terrorist activity knows no race, ethnicity or religion. Doing so would be a grave disservice to our nation — and would disrespect those who have sacrificed their lives as a result of terrorist activity.
All of the premises that are the foundation for Rep. King’s belief that this inquiry is needed are false. His motives are either ignorant or bigoted, and whether Rep. King is ignorant or bigoted, either possibility makes him a bad choice to be in charge of Homeland Security, or to lead a non-biased investigation. I am concerned that the question that Rep. King might is really interested in is - “Are you now, or have you ever been, a Muslim?”
Homegrown terrorism is a serious concern and understanding how individuals are radicalized and what we can do to counteract radicalization is important to all Americans. This a serious issue and it deserves serious attention. The American people deserve facts, not emotional speculation focusing on only one religious community.
I hope that Rep. King reads and re-reads the First Amendment of the Constitution and how that might relate to his hearings in many ways, including his audacity in considering himself any kind of an authority on who should hold leadership within the American Muslim community. - “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
This demonization of Islam and Muslims is becoming a vicious cycle. Muslims in America are accused of not speaking up. Muslims in America do everything in their power to speak up - and they are either totally ignored, or accused of lying, or of not saying enough. In some cases, not only are very strong Muslim statements ignored, but non-Muslims prepare their own statements concerning the identical subject which they then demand that Muslims sign, and when Muslims rightfully refuse to play this ridiculous game, use the “fact” that the Muslims refused to sign their statement as proof that Muslims are not really “moderate”. The “red herring” called the Freedom Pledge Against Punishment for Apostasy is just one such example of this devious and malicious game. American Muslims had already issued a Freedom of Faith Statement to which there were 100+ initiating signatories. The full statement along with supporting information can be seen here, and the list of signatories can be found here. What possible reason would we have to sign on to something else prepared by people with a bias against Islam and Muslims? Although such professional Islamophobes seem to be the people that are called on by the media to explain Islam and Muslims, and after carefully noting all of their lies and distortions, actual Muslims are then called upon to defend themselves against their vicious slanders of our faith.
If it is even marginally acknowledged that Muslims did speak up, then what they said is called “just empty words” and they are asked to physically do something to stop any criminal action to prove that they “really mean it”. Really! Isn’t that the job of the government and law enforcement? As a private citizen it is my responsibility to report anything suspicious I might become aware of - but criminals are not likely to speak openly in front of anyone they don’t believe to be sympathetic to their cause. Are these people really suggesting that the Muslim community become a vigilante group and set up some sort of an armed militia to go out and hunt down suspected criminals? Should Mexican Americans and Columbian Americans do the same and solve the problem of the drug cartels? Should Italian Americans be responsible for going after the mafia?
What is most striking is that this demonization of our entire community, and attempt to marginalize us is being participated in by even some of our elected representatives. Much of what they have said, including raising the possibility that Islam is not really a religion and might not be covered under the first amendment of the Constitution ought to concern all Americans.
Ordinary, every day Muslims are becoming frustrated with this impossible situation, and exhausted by the constant demand that we “prove” our loyalty and distance ourselves from whatever is the current issue. We are not the enemy. We are Americans, part of “we the people”. Most of us were born here. We were not responsible for 9/11. In fact, 9/11 happened to us all, and Muslims died that day along with all the other innocent victims. We are not collectively responsible for every criminal act of any Muslim on earth. Islam is not the enemy, and when you attack the religion of Islam you are not hurting groups like al Qaeda (actually you are giving them a propoganda windfall to drum up more recruits), you are hurting ordinary Muslims.
I cannot recall the times I have atoned for my brother’s sins. Nor can I recall the occasions I have categorically dissociated, denounced and condemned all acts of terror by any one individual or group anywhere on earth. Yes, this unfair demand haunts my very soul, chokes my every breath rendering my voice unrecognizable or audible. But, it is a documented fact that I have raised my voice along with the great majority of fellow American Muslims. But as happens to the tree that falls in the forest, our voices have had no listening ears. ... I Aref Assaf, who sees himself as a Moderate Muslim, hereby say to my fellow moderate Americans: “I am sorry, I am truly remorseful for the crimes wrought unto you by extremist Muslims.” But and like you, I was and have continued to be a victim of the terror plague. Would you at least recognize the lost lives of fellow American Muslims who also perished in the rubble of the World trade Center? Furthermore, is it condescending, immaterial, or otherwise, irrelevant to tell you, that around the world, more innocent Muslims were the victims of “Islamist terrorism” than Jews, Christians combined. The recognitions of this reality I hope will prod you to accept me as also the victim of terrorism not its cause. And misery loves company. Dr. Arref Assaf
HISTORIC MOMENT - PETER KING’S HEARINGS
Rep. Peter King’s first hearing “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” took place on March 10, 2011.
TAM has an article The American Muslim Community and Rep. Peter King’s “Islamic” Radicalization Hearings which has a great deal of background on Peter King and these hearings, and an extensive article collection. We also have a series of articles breaking down various aspects of the hearings:
- Peter King’s Hearing: What Was the Point? discussing the content of the hearings, with a collection of articles written after the hearing ended.
- Peter King’s Civics Lesson for American Muslims which has a collection of anti-Muslim statements by elected representatives and government officials made during and before the hearings.
- Existing reports and studies on radicalization in the American Muslim Community and Polls, Surveys, and Statistics Relating to Islam and Muslims with actual hard evidence so lacking in the hearing.
- Response of Civic Organizations and Interfaith Community to “Muslim Radicalization” Hearings
- Elected Representatives & Government Officials Who HAVE Questioned Islamophobia with quotes from elected representives and government officials attempting to counter the bias of this hearing both during and before the hearing.
- Peter King’s hearing: witness testimonies - allegations but no facts
- Zuhdi Jasser and AIFD - Identified by Rep. King as the Ideal American Muslim Leadership
- Does Rep. King’s IRA/Terrorist Connection Matter?
- Answers to Peter King’s Claims About the American Muslim Community which lays out all of his claims and allegations and provides detailed answers to each. (e.g. Do Muslims cooperate with law enforcement? Do Muslims speak out against terrorism and extremism? Are most Muslims terrorists? Are 80 to 85% of mosques run by radicals? Have American Muslim organizations responded to the issue of radicalization? Are mosques the source of radicalization? etc.)
- The scope of Rep. Kings Hearings Creates Homeland “in"Security
All of these articles will be updated as further information comes in, and there will be more articles in this series.