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Congressional hearings on radical Islam begin

Catholic World News - March 11, 2011

A New York Congressman opened hearings on the radicalization of the American Muslim community on March 10.

“I have repeatedly said the overwhelming majority of Muslim-Americans are outstanding Americans and make enormous contributions to our country. But there are realities we cannot ignore,” said Rep. Peter King. “For instance a Pew Poll said that 15% of Muslim-American men between the age of 18 and 29 could support suicide bombings. This is the segment of the community al Qaeda is attempting to recruit.”

“It is true that specific individuals, including some who are Muslims, are violent extremists. However, these are individuals – but not entire communities,” countered Rep. Keith Ellison, a Muslim. “ When [individuals'] violent actions are associated with an entire community, then blame is assigned to a whole group. This is the very heart of stereotyping and scapegoating, which is counter-productive.”

Also testifying were

  • Rep. Bernie Thompson, who said that he could not “help but wonder how propaganda about this hearing's focus on the American Muslim community will be used by those who seek to inspire a new generation of suicide bombers.”
  • Melvin Bledsoe, whose son converted to Islam and is charged with murdering an Army private. Bledsoe said his son “was captured by people best described as hunters.”
  • M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a Muslim who opposes what he calls “Islamism” and said that “the course of Muslim radicalization in the United States over the past two years makes it exceedingly difficult for anyone to assert with a straight face that in America we Muslims do not have a radicalization problem.”
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