Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Pros and Cons of Congressional Hearings on Radicalization among American Muslims

Fair to Muslims?
By AKBAR AHMED, New York Times, March 8, 2011

MANY American Muslims are fearful and angry about the Congressional hearings on Islamic radicalism that will start Thursday, with some arguing that they are a mere provocation meant to incite bigotry. But as a scholar, I view the hearings, to be led by Representative Peter T. King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, as an opportunity to educate Americans about our community’s diversity and faith.

The topic is urgent, and the hearings overdue. It is undeniable that the phenomenon of homegrown terrorists appears to be increasing in frequency. A successful attack would set back relations between Muslims and non-Muslims for many years. The backlash would effectively sweep away the slow but steady progress in interfaith dialogue that has been achieved since 9/11.

Muslim leaders must acknowledge that many Americans are fearful of religiously motivated terrorism. Simply to protest the hearings and call for them to be canceled, as some have done, strikes many non-Muslims as uncooperative, or as intended to conceal dark secrets or un-American behavior.

Instead, Muslims should embrace the chance to explain their beliefs fully and clearly. We have nothing to hide. But members of Congress also need to act responsibly. They should avoid broad accusations, and be aware that the hearings will be closely followed worldwide. The actions of both groups will shape America’s relationship with Islam, and the relationship of American Muslims with their country.

To better understand the Muslim community and its attitudes toward American identity, I spent much of 2008 and 2009 traveling the United States. My research assistants and I visited 75 communities, from Dearborn, Mich., to Arab, Ala., and 100 mosques around the country. We conducted hundreds of interviews, and compiled some 2,000 responses to a long questionnaire.

For complete article, click here

For Background, see:
Peter King's Muslim hearings: A key moment in an angry conversation - Washington Post
Welcome to the Shari‘ah Conspiracy Theory Industry - Religion Dispates
Peter King's Unlikely Ally - Daily Beast
Picture Source: Economist

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