Being Muslim does not mean you support terrorism

Andrew Fergin

This month a hearing titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response” pushed for by Representative Peter King and hosted by the “Committee on Homeland Security” caused a great deal of controversy. The name of the hearing explains its function, to discuss the response of the Muslim community to radical Muslims in America. The overarching problem is that during and even before the hearing had begun there was a clear message that there was a measure of blame being placed on the Muslim American community.

Prior to the hearing Representative King expressed in numerous interviews that the generalized Muslim American community has shown “insufficient cooperation” in efforts to identify and arrest what King referred to as “radical” Muslims.

Representative King is allowed his own opinion and it would be unreasonable to say that he should have given no public commentary prior to the hearing. What is offensive is that long before the hearing he had already placed the responsibility of ousting radical Muslims (and with it the blame for failures to do so) nearly exclusively on the Muslim American community. When Muslims are already so unfairly distrusted in America King’s already inflammatory comments were nothing short of demonizing.

Even during the hearing there was a distinct impression that Muslim Americans as a whole were on trial. While presenting testimony MD. Zhudi Lasser stated “Too many so?called Muslim leadership groups in America, like the Council on American?Islamic Relations (CAIR) or Muslim Advocates, have specifically told Muslims across the nation, for example, not to speak to the FBI or law enforcement unless they are accompanied by an attorney.” The right to legal council is one of the most precious rights we have as Americans. That Lasser views Muslim Americans invoking one of their basic rights as a problem reinforces the already existing notion that Muslim Americans are some sort of Bogey Man second class.

Whether the Muslim American community should or should not take a more active roll in identifying and arresting radical Muslim in America is not the issue here. The problem is that at best the way the hearing and the time leading up to it were handled did nothing but paint Muslim Americans as some sort of passive enabler to radical Muslim terrorism in America and at worst placed the actions of these radicals on the head of every Muslim American.