Rep. Peter King of New York, who held the first in a series of hearings on radicalization in the American Muslim community on March 10, has a well-known position on WikiLeaks: It's terrorism. He urged the Treasury Department in January 2011 "to add WikiLeaks and its founder Jullian Assange to the Specially Designated National and Blocked Persons List (SDN List)."
His letter to the Treasury Department explains his opinion, "The U.S. government simply cannot continue its ineffective piecemeal approach of responding in the aftermath of Wikileaks' damage. The Administration must act to disrupt the Wikileaks enterprise. The U.S. government should be making every effort to strangle the viability of Assange's organization."
Presumably, King would like to see WikiLeaks "strangled" in the way that the Committee on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) is being cracked down on by the FBI. King explicitly called for Muslim-Americans to reject CAIR, which he said "was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorist financing case involving the Holyland Foundation."
But, CAIR is a "legitimate" organization, especially in the eyes of the Muslim community in America. Brad Knickerbocker writes for the Christian Science Monitor, "CAIR is a nonprofit organization with 33 chapters in the United States and Canada. The organization's stated mission is "to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.'"
It has been directly involved in issues such as the proposed Islamic center near 9/11's "ground zero" in New York and the related instances and threats of Koran burning. It has taken legal action on behalf of Muslims -- the right to wear head scarves in work places, for example. It has repeatedly condemned terrorism, worked with law enforcement agencies, and promoted a peaceful view of Islam.
Knickerbocker makes clear no person from CAIR was invited to speak at the hearing. They submitted written testimony.
King's opening statement cited Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama Denis McDonough, who said on March 6, 2011, at ADAMS Center, one of the largest mosques in America, "Al Qaeda and its adherents have increasingly turned to another troubling tactic: attempting to recruit and radicalize people to terrorism here in the United States."
McDonough also asserted al Qaeda makes videos, creates Internet forums, publishes online magazines all for the "expressed purpose of trying to convince Muslim Americans to reject their country and attack their fellow Americans."
It is this fear that any Muslim with America's borders is capable of attacking America if he or she has come in contact with extremist and violent Islamic ideology that King wished to make explicitly clear at the hearing. And, this is the same phobia that motivated King to oppose the Park51 project--or what opponents termed the "Ground Zero Mosque"--last year. As with WikiLeaks, he called for an investigation into developer Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's finances to find out where he was getting his money for the project (e.g. al Qaeda).
Rauf reacted to the hearing yesterday, "The fear I have is the banner headline in the Muslim world ... that Muslims are under attack which radicalizes people even further." He continued, "Our common enemy is extremism and the radicalism that fuels extremism. Whether it's a pastor in Florida who threatens to burn Korans ... whether it's people who attack an embassy and kill people ... all that has no place in civil society today."
King should take seriously Rauf if he truly is interested in curbing what he considers to be radicalization. A Muslim American Public Opinion Survey (MAPOS), the "largest study of Muslim Americans ever done," recently found "increased religiosity increases civic engagement and support for American democratic values."
The report affirmed, "Mosques are institutions that should be encouraged to function as centers of social and political integration in America." Undermining the anti-Islam industry that has sprung up to unearth so-called "creeping Sharia" in America, it found, "95% of those who are most religious feel Islam is compatible with American politics."
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