Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Statement of CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad on Peter King Hearing

Washington, DC, March 9, 2011

Since Representative Peter King announced tomorrow's planned hearing on American Muslims, more than 250 organizations have written to him expressing concerns about his statements and allegations.

Hundreds of leaders from across the nation, including more than 80 interfaith representatives from King's home of Long Island, New York, have expressed similar concerns.

Representative King's two main allegations -- that American Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement and that 80 to 85 percent of their leadership are "extremists" -- are demonstrably false.

Top law enforcement officials such as FBI Director Robert Mueller and Sheriff Lee Baca, commander of the nation's largest sheriff's department and a board member of the National Sheriff's Association, say Muslims support and cooperate with law enforcement.

Just this week, a former FBI counterterrorism director rejected the allegation of Muslim non-cooperation.

Michael Rolince, who headed the Counterterrorism Division in the FBI's Washington field office between 2002 and 2005, said: "I will tell you in no uncertain terms that the community has on multiple occasions come forward and assisted law enforcement.”

Academic research also refutes Congressman King's claims.

Earlier this year, Duke University found that tips from the American Muslim community provided information “that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.” Duke University also found that, “[M]any mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering violent extremism.”

There is no denying that people of evil intent covet the opportunity to recruit Americans, including those of the Islamic faith, and to pull them away from the straight path of Islam to the deviated path of violent extremism.

CAIR and the mainstream Muslim community are natural enemies of those who promote violent extremism.

There is also no denying that – except for a tiny minority -- violent extremists have not found fertile ground in America. Many individuals and institutions, including law enforcement, homeland security personnel, and the leaders and members of the American Muslim community, deserve a share of the credit for this.

CAIR has always maintained that it is both a civic and religious duty to immediately report criminal activity to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Equally, like any civil liberties organization, we advise our community to know their constitutional rights.

Our community has reasonable concerns with some law enforcement activities and policies.

These concerns include overly-broad surveillance of Muslims and their institutions based solely on religion, concerns about FBI and other agencies pursuing lines of questioning related to First Amendment protected activities, concern about the use of Muslim-bashers as law enforcement trainers, and concerns about American Muslims abroad facing denial of due process and pressure to become informants.

Tomorrow, Congressman King will have the spotlight. We sincerely hope that he and his witnesses abandon false allegations, personal agendas and irresponsible rhetoric in favor of a sober and objective hearing.

Sadly, a disturbing number of religious, ethnic and racial minorities – including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Jewish Americans, Catholics, Mormons, and many others -- have been singled out for discrimination at various times in our history. American Muslims would be doing a disservice to the sacrifices of minorities before us if we do not stand up for ourselves now.

We ask our fellow Americans not to succumb to Rep. King’s fear-mongering. We ask our fellow Americans to reject his false and unsubstantiated allegations. And we thank the many political and religious leaders who have spoken against King’s divisive hearing.

America was not built for any one religion, race or ethnicity. It was built on a set of principles. One of those principles is respect for pluralism. We hope Congressman King will remember that and work to unite, not divide our nation.

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