Alexandria, VA – In response to Congressman Peter King’s (R-NY) proposed congressional hearings on terrorism and American Muslims and the rising incidence of anti-Muslim bias demonstrated by elected officials and other individuals with responsibilities for public safety, security, and law enforcement, MAS Freedom, the civil and human rights advocacy component of the Muslim American Society, indicated that it will move forward to organize a citizens hearing on Capitol Hill.
The hearing will “bring together members of Congress, national religious leaders, and civil rights advocates to examine the disturbing rise of Islamophobic and biased actions on the part of some elected and public officials. These officials are determined to inappropriately interject their own feelings of prejudice against Muslims into issues that impact not only the well-being of our community, but the very integrity of our constitutional system.”
The citizen’s hearing, planned for early 2011, will offer testimony from noted national interfaith leaders and civil rights advocates who have expressed concerns about the anti-Muslim comments made by some elected officials who have mischaracterized millions of law-abiding and patriotic Muslims and Muslim leaders in the U.S. as “terrorist sympathizers” or “co-conspirators” against public safety or the rule of constitutional law. MAS Freedom has also expressed grave concern that some of these public Islamophobes are involved in training law enforcement agencies, and attempting to interject their own personal agendas into what should be the fair and unbiased enforcement of the law.
Over the last seven years, MAS Freedom has sponsored and participated in other citizen’s hearings on Capitol Hill that examined the critical issues of U.S. policy in Iraq, civil and human rights issues that impact the Muslim community, and the issue of the need for new national health care policies.
According to Mahdi Bray, the Executive Director of MAS Freedom, “Our proposed citizen’s hearing will invite current and former members of Congress, prominent national religious leaders and organizations to openly challenge the use of our tax dollars by officials who continue to demonstrate bias against Muslims, ignorance of the realities of the Muslim- American community and a disregard for any form of constructive engagement with our organizations and recognized leaders.
I think that Congressman King’s previous bigoted and factually inaccurate statement concerning Muslims definitely calls into question his ability to hold a fair and objective hearing concerning American Muslims. Given the bias and Islamophobic statements made by him and other elected officials, I think it’s more than appropriate that we ask current and former members of congress as well as national religious leaders to participate in a citizens hearing that examines the impact of religious bias and anti-Muslim sentiment exhibited by public elected officials, especially Congressman King. We will continue to struggle for our collective rights.”
Bray also stated that, “as Muslims who want the best for our own community and the nation at large, we cannot sit idly by and allow the personal bias and unwarranted attacks on our community to go unchallenged. We believe in upholding the rule of law and constitutional and religious freedom for all people in America, but these ideals cannot be realized when public officials use their offices and their influence to openly attack and denigrate Muslims, or to suggest that we are collectively guilty for acts of violence that we have nothing to do with. Every national or religious group in America that has experienced racism and prejudice has organized vigorous responses to institutionalized bias, and as Muslims, we must do the same.”
If you would like to assist MAS Freedom in its national initiative to protect religious freedom, please contact us at [email protected] or call us at 1 (888) 627 8471.
MAS Freedom is a civic and human rights advocacy of the Muslim American Society, the largest Muslim, grassroots, charitable, religious, social, cultural, civic and educational organization in America – with 55 chapters in 35 states.