When Republicans became the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives at the beginning of 2011, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) became the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and announced that he would hold a series of hearings to investigate what he called the “radicalization” of the American Muslim community.
Congressman King has a long history of making inflammatory and inaccurate comments about Islam and the American Muslim community, including saying “there are too many mosques in America” and “85 percent” of American Muslim community leaders are “[the]enemy living amongst us.”
When Representative King announced his plan to hold these hearings, CAIR joined more than 250 organizations who questioned his statements and allegations. Hundreds of leaders from across the nation, including more than 80 interfaith representatives from King’s home of Long Island, N.Y., similarly expressed concerns.
Even before the first hearing, CAIR was at the forefront of exposing King’s record of anti-Muslim statements and false allegations against our community. We published an online toolkit designed to help community leaders respond to the hearings and organized a major news conference with other Muslim and civil rights organizations to express our concerns about Rep. King’s apparent anti-Muslim bias and the unbalanced list of witnesses he planned to call. That press conference was broadcast nationwide by C-SPAN and was so heavily attended that some reporters were heard saying that CAIR’s press conference had more cameras than the announcement of the NBA draft picks.
CAIR’s government affairs department prepared and submitted written testimony to the first King hearing debunking a number of King’s falsehoods regarding Muslims. Because of the pro-active efforts of CAIR and others, Rep. King was forced to drop some of the anti-Muslim extremists he planned to call as witnesses.
While the first of Rep. King’s hearings on the supposed “radicalization” of American Muslims generated a great deal of buzz, the combined efforts CAIR and other rights organizations put the issue of radicalization in its proper context and showed a true picture of the American Muslim community. King’s second, third and fourth hearings were mostly ignored by the media.