Faith, community leaders oppose King hearings

Feb 18, 2011 Issues: Domestic Radicalization / Radicalization Hearings

By VÍCTOR MANUEL RAMOS
Newsday
February 18, 2011

Long Island faith and community leaders yesterday called on Rep. Peter King to cancel his upcoming Muslim "radicalization" hearings.

A letter to King signed by representatives of more than 80 churches, synagogues, mosques and peace groups said the hearings "will only further divide our community and undermine our nation's highest ideals."

King (R-Seaford) has said the hearings, slated for mid-March before the House Homeland Security Committee which he chairs, are needed to explore terror threats posed by radical American Muslims.

"I am disappointed that these religious leaders and peace advocates wish to obstruct my search for the truth," he said in an e-mail. "Obviously, I am going forward."

The letter compares King's push to times in U.S. history when other groups were singled out as threats - such as Japanese-Americans held in camps during World War II and alleged Communists questioned during the McCarthy hearings.

"Let us remember the lessons of history," the letter states. "Entire communities should never be targeted for suspicion of disloyalty."

Sister Jeanne Clark, a Catholic who signed the letter, said her faith compelled her to side with the concerns of Muslims.

"It's very dangerous to speak about a whole group of people as one sweeping thing," said Clark, coordinator of the peace group Pax Christi Long Island. "What this could do is make all the Muslim people feel fearful."