The hearing featured just one Somali witness from Canadia, Ahmed Hussen, who said that low employment within the Somali diaspora allowed some to become alienated "and fall victim to a narrative that turns them against Canada and the United States." "This dangerous and constant anti-western narrative is fed to them by radicals in our community," said Hussen, "who do not hesitate to use these vulnerable youth as gun fodder in their desire to establish a base for the Al Qaeda terrorist group in Somalia."
Critics again question the targeting of one religious group
According to the Christian Century Wednesday's hearing inspired far less emotion than the two previous ones held by King. The first, in March, on the so-called radicalization of American Muslims in general, prompted heated debates and headlines weeks before it happened. Protestors lined the corridors outside the hearing room. The second hearing, in June, on the "radicalization' of Muslims in the nation's prisons, was less dramatic -- and less well-attended.
Like King's first March hearing on Islamic radicalization, critics questioned the targeting of one religious group, particularly just days after an anti-Muslim terrorist in Norway killed 93 people.
Critics have long said King's inquisitions into so-called Islamic radicalization could not only inflame anti-Muslim sentiment in the US, but also divert attention from other serious threats like those posed from violent right-wing extreme ideologies. Some want the committee to expand their scope.
Several Democrats on the committee Wednesday said Congress should investigate a broad spectrum of domestic terrorist threats, including anti-government hate groups and white supremacists. No current federal officials have testified at the hearings.
At Wednesday's and previous hearings, some experts have argued that helping immigrant communities assimilate is the best way to keep the United States safe, said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., arguing against future hearings on Muslim Americans. "I get it. I get it. I get it. I get it," Richmond told King.
Rep. Yvette Clark of Brooklyn said the hearings should've expanded from Muslim radicalization to all forms of radicalization, including gang activity in inner cities. "When we become fixated on one type of people, we take our eyes off the prize," Clark said to King, adding, "I love you."
According to News Day, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) was perhaps the harshest critic of those on the panel, saying King's hearing "reminds me of a visit to the zoo when I saw the one-trick pony" and suggested that gang activity and other youth problems were equally important.Hearings of Peter King make us less safe
Commenting on Wednesday's hearing, Justin Krebs, the founder of Living Liberally, says King's Muslim Radicalization hearings make us less safe. In an article published on WYNC.ORG blog, Kerbs suggested that King could have studied home-grown terrorism and the perverting influences that turn American citizens into violent actors - but he chose to specifically focus on the threat of Islam.
Congressman King is making us less safe by not dedicating resources and his platform to addressing threats that come from non-Muslim radical, violent extremists, Kerbs said adding: "And let's hope the comments of his witnesses, who make false and inflammatory statements about the nature of Islam and the extent of the threat of violence among American Muslims, don't intentionally or unwittingly inflame that imagination of a next generation of unbalanced individuals, lone gunmen and others who might really threaten our citizens and our civil society."
Kerbs also referred to what he called inane and extreme responses to the attack in Norway by the right wing. "Alternet's round-up of the worst would be hilarious if it weren't frightening. Because so many had assumed the bombing was the work of Muslim radicals (as opposed to an anti-Muslim radical), conservative pundits had to backpedal with comments that referred to the gunman's act as "jihad," said "Islamic supremacists" had incited him to violence, and refused any comparison between the Muslim terrorism and Christian terrorism."
Of course, these quotes are cherry-picked to be the most absurd (although many of them were stated in "mainstream" media outlets) and the majority of conservatives - like all Americans - recognized that an act of radical right-wing Christian violence is extreme, but isn't unique. We've seen it in our own country, he said adding: In fact, the DHS had issued a report about the danger of right-wing militants during the Bush Administration - before the Bush Administration suppressed and challenged the findings.
"But it isn't the extreme and sensational right-wing pundits we should worry about the most, it's our members of Congress. When Representative King (who, as is often noted, backed the IRA when they were officially considered a terrorist organization) decided that his hearings weren't about the greatest threat to America, but the Muslim threat, he made a choice," Kerb argued.