Peter King Plows On With ‘Radicalization of Islam’ Hearing

American Muslims and members of all faiths demonstrate March 6, 2011, in Times Square, New York, against the upcoming House of Representatives hearings on "Radicalization of American Muslims." (Getty Images)

Today, the House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King moved forward with his much-scrutinized hearing on the “radicalization” of American Muslims.

The premise is to hold a fact-finding investigation meant to research radical Islam in America. King himself has admitted, however, that the key witnesses in the hearing were carefully screened Muslim Americans who agree with his point of view.

What about the voices of the vast majority of Muslims in America who want nothing to do with extremist violence and ideology? Moreover, what about balancing perspectives by including the discussion of other radical movements in this country that are not rooted in Islam?

As interfaith rallies rise to the occasion, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at this country’s progress toward religious freedom and plurality–and the challenges we have yet to overcome.

Encouraging research on terrorist threats to this country is necessary, yes. Many believe this particular hearing’s approach, however, was framed in a way that would provoke “Islamophobia” and distrust both toward and from the American Muslim community. The NAACP wrote in a letter to King that the hearings are “reckless and narrowly focused” and reinforce hostile stereotypes and misunderstanding.

New Yorker Omar Sayyed, 25, was formerly active in the Progressive Muslim Meetup group until his hopes lifted that cultural plurality was on the rise after Obama’s election. He recognizes that there is still work to be done–and that there are more inclusive ways to open a dialogue than what’s unfolding now. “I think if King needed to go with a hearing like this, he should have gone with a more holistic approach. I don’t expect that much from him, knowing his history, but it would have been a prudent course to take.”

Perhaps we’ll see the conversation flip as activists for religious tolerance share King’s spotlight. In the coming days, Act plans to spotlight a few of these young activists, as well as give you ways to have an impact on this cause. You can start by taking action below.

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Why should you take action to support religious tolerance? The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has answers.