Against the backdrop of rising volume of Islamophobia in the United States, a Republican congressional leader now plans to hold hearings in Congress next year on the “radicalization” of Muslim communities, his office announced Friday.
Congressman Peter King is planning to hold the hearings once he takes up the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee.
He says the hearings are planned in response to complaints from law enforcement officials that Muslim leaders have been uncooperative in terror investigations.
“When I meet with law enforcement, they are constantly telling me how little cooperation they get from Muslim leaders,” King told The New York Times. “It is controversial. But to me, it is something that has to be discussed.”
The hearings come at a time of increased concerns being voiced here about “homegrown” Muslim terrorists – along with persistent fears that innocent Muslims have been unfairly targeted since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Muslim leaders told the Times they have strong concerns about King’s proposed hearings.
“We are disturbed that this representative who is in a leadership position does not have the understanding and knowledge of what the realities are on the ground,” said Abed A. Ayoub, the legal director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He added that King’s proposal “has bigoted intentions.”
A CBS/ New York Times poll released in mid-September showed that as many as 20 percent of Americans said they have negative feelings toward Muslims because of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
In September, anger over the role of Muslims in the United States came to a head over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque,” an Islamic community center that organizers wanted to construct a few blocks away from the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.