Civil Rights Coalition Urges Cancellation of Anti-Muslim Hearings, Releases Report on Racial Profiling

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is calling on Rep. Peter King, R. N.Y., to cancel a hearing scheduled for Thursday on “radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorists.” The hearing is a “disservice to the seriousness of the topic of ‘domestic terrorism,'” the coalition said.

Speaking today with reporters, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, explained:

“We recognize that Rep. King, as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has the authority to set the committee’s agenda and to determine the topics of its hearings. Yet, even a Chairman’s power should be tempered by common sense and common decency; and in that regard, Peter King has gone a step too far. 

In framing this hearing, Chairman King has – in at least two instances – made broad, unsubstantiated assertions against the American Muslim community that call into question the fairness of the hearing and the seriousness of his efforts to increase the domestic security of our nation.

First, Chairman King has perpetuated the dangerous myth that the majority of American mosques are run by extremists, when in fact experts have concluded that mosque attendance is a significant factor in the prevention of extremism. Furthermore, during a recent interview, Chairman King went so far as to say that, when it comes to wanting to keep our country safe, American Muslims are not truly American.

The suggestion that American Muslims are somehow less committed to the security of the country where many are born and where they live, work and raise their children – simply by virtue of their faith – is an affront to American values and to every person of faith in America.”

The Leadership Conference expressed similar concern when King announced his intention to hold a series of hearings on the subject. The coalition sent a letter to Chairman King on February 4 asking him to “postpone, reframe or cancel” them because, “as currently framed, these hearings will inevitably stoke anti-Muslim sentiment and increase suspicion and fear of the American Muslim community.” 

“Any congressional inquiry should be broad in scope to include all forms of domestic terror threats, and it should include violence motivated by all extremist beliefs. We should strive to identify terrorists by their behavior rather than by their religion, race, or ethnicity,” the letter said.

Civil and human rights groups have long been concerned with the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which has coincided with a troubling resurgence in the use of and support for racial profiling.  In its new report released today, “Restoring a National Consensus: The Need to End Racial Profiling in America,” The Leadership Conference documents how the consensus to end racial profiling has evaporated since 9/11, and how the use of racial profiling has expanded in the context of counterterrorism; fighting drug trafficking and other “street-level” crimes; and in efforts to enforce immigration laws.