Washington, D.C. (March 10, 2011) – With U.S. Congressman Peter King, (R-NY) held a congressional hearing on “radicalization” Thursday that attracted intense controversy from Muslim and Asian American community leaders condemned the proceedings as xenophobic.
Floyd Mori, director, Japanese American Citizens League, went so far as to compare the treatment of South Asian, Arab, Sikh and Muslim Americans in the aftermath of Sept. 11 to what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II.
Mori was joined for a day of statements and interviews with Deepa Iyer, director, South Asian Americans Leading Together; and George Wu, chair, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.
Peter King is chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and announced the hearings on “radicalization” and “homegrown terrorism.”
Muslim American Society – Freedom network added that King, himself, has a long history with violent radicals, and to single out the Muslim community in America for public scrutiny is out of step when King supported an organization that came close to assassinating both Margaret Thatcher and John Major.
“Congressman King is recreating the hotspot in which he once sat,” the statement said. “In the mid-1980s, the government leaders on both sides of the Atlantic were openly hostile to Mr. King. On one occasion, a judge threw him out of a Belfast courtroom during the murder trial of IRA men because, in the judge’s view, ‘he was an obvious collaborator with the IRA’. When he attended other trials, the police singled him out for thorough body searches.”
MAS added that it is un-American to deny any community their rights because of their race, religion, or political views. America’s greatest strength is its diversity and commitment to protecting freedom.
“Targeting Muslim Americans goes against our founding belief in religious freedom, although it does not bother this American lawmaker, who has forgotten that people of all faiths and beliefs should have the freedom to associate and pray, as guaranteed by our Constitution, not the freedom to associate and be spied on.”
Muslim American Immigrant Justice Center and MAS-Freedom joined the Muslim community in expressing its deepest concerned that the hearings will send the message that certain faiths deserve less protection under the law. Immigrant advocates express concern for immigrants who already suffer from mass discrimination, even under existing laws.
“Mr. King’s hearings will undermine public safety by further eroding the Muslim community’s trust in law enforcement and government. Putting an entire community under suspicion erodes trust in law enforcement, which in turn undermines public safety. It marginalizes and alienates communities resulting in the failure to report crimes or act as witnesses in investigations and prosecutions.
“MAS Freedom would like to remind Chairman King that he could have been a decent Irish nationalist. He chose not to be. He still has the chance to be a better American. We ask him to focus on security measures that target individual behavior, not whole communities of faith.”