This letter raises legitimate concerns that are shared by many groups and faith traditions, including the Unitarians, Amnesty International, and, I hope, many Quakers.—Anthony Manousos
A joint letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi signed by CAIR and 50 other groups states in part: (The letter was coordinated by Muslim Advocates.)
“The undersigned community organizations and groups concerned about civil and human rights and national security strongly object to the hearings on violent extremism recently announced by the Chair of the Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Peter King. . .
“Chairman King has characterized the hearings, tentatively scheduled for February 2011, as focusing exclusively on the ‘radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism.’ If Chairman King proceeds with these hearings, please urge him to address all forms of violence motivated by extremist beliefs and to do so in a full, fair, and objective way. . .
“Singling out a group of Americans for government scrutiny based on their faith is divisive and wrong. These hearings will inevitably examine activities protected by the First Amendment, an affront to fundamental freedoms upon which our country was founded. It harkens back to hearings held in the 1950s by then-U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy. That dark chapter in our history taught us that Congress has a solemn duty to wield its investigatory power responsibly. . .
“These hearings will almost certainly increase widespread suspicion and mistrust of the American Muslim community and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment. During 2010, we saw an increase in anti-Muslim hatred in public discourse, as well as hate crimes and violence targeting American Muslims, and those perceived to be Muslim, including vandalism and arson of mosques, physical attacks, bullying of children in schools, and attempted murder. No American should live in fear for his or her safety, and Congress should not help create a climate where it is acceptable to target a particular faith community for discrimination, harassment, and violence. . .
We strongly urge you to object to the hearings in their current form. If Chairman King wishes to address violent extremism, then we hope you will ensure that he examines violence motivated by extremist beliefs, in all its forms, in a full, fair and objective way. The hearings should proceed from a clear understanding that individuals are responsible for their actions, not entire communities.”
To read the entire letter, go to: