Peter King Defends NYPD Monitoring, Plans More Hearings on Islam


27 Feb 2012

By Juan Cole & George Zornick

Appearing on WCBS in New York this morning, Representative Peter King offered a strong defense of NYPD's spying on mosques and Muslim businesses and student groups in several states. Criticism of the recently revealed program has intensified in recent days, but King said he was proud of the police department.

"[Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly and the NYPD should get a medal for what they are doing," he said. "This is good police work. If you are going after radical Muslims you don't go to Ben's Kosher Deli."

This is perhaps not surprising coming from the man who held highly controversial Capitol Hill hearings into Muslim Americans last year, which many people saw as essentially profiling by public relations; his colleague, Representative Keith Ellison invoked the specter of Joe McCarthy in criticizing King's efforts and said they served to "vilify" Muslims.

But, alas, King announced last week that he would hold more hearings into domestic radicalization among Muslim Americans in the coming year. "The series of radicalization hearings I convened last March has been very productive," King said in a statement. "I will definitely continue the hearings in 2012."

This is a good time to flag a recent study by Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina and member of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. His comprehensive examination of crime statistics found that terrorism-related incidents by Muslim Americans has declined markedly, and that Muslim-Americans represent "a minuscule threat to public safety." He wrote:

The limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim American terrorism would escalate. The spike in terrorism cases in 2009 renewed these concerns, as have repeated warnings from U.S. government officials about a possible surge in homegrown Islamic terrorism. The predicted surge has not materialized.

Repeated alerts by government officials maybe issued as a precaution, even when the underlying threat is uncertain. Officials may be concerned about how they would look if an attack did take place and subsequent investigations showed that officials had failed to warn the public. But a byproduct of these alerts is a sense of heightened tension that is out of proportion to the actual number of terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11.

If King calls Kurzman to testify at his hearings I'll eat my hat, but it's possible Democrats on the committee could arrange for his appearance. He would provide a substantive counterweight to King's typically anecdote-driven hysteria. Last week the FBI foiled a plot in which a Moroccan man wanted to bomb the US Capitol—you can bet King will give that episode a prominent role at his hearings.

Soldiers visit with Islamic center's members as cultural lesson - By Josh Jarman The Columbus Dispatch

They arrived in Humvees and military fatigues.

They left carrying free copies of the Quran.

If their mission was successful, the 30 or so Army Reserve soldiers from B Company, 412th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), also left the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Hilliard yesterday with a greater understanding of Islam and experience interacting with people from other cultures.

The soldiers spent about three hours at the center eating traditional Indian and Middle Eastern foods and talking in small groups with members of the mosque, many of whom were born overseas.

Capt. Patrick Seaman said it was his idea to take the troops to the center because no amount of training can replace real-world experience talking to, and gaining the trust of, people from different cultural backgrounds.

Seaman said the soldiers who took part are paratroopers with special-operations training. But their missions aren't about blowing up bridges or capturing strategic locations; they serve as cultural liaisons between fellow soldiers and residents, he said.

"Our job is to win the hearts and minds," Seaman said. "I don't want the first time they are talking to someone from another country or faith to be (while deployed)."

Asim Haque, a member of the center's board of directors, said the event was as good for the members of the mosque as it was for the soldiers.

Part of the center's mission, Haque said, is to be a clearinghouse for information on Islam in the Columbus area.

Haque said the center has a duty to help U.S. troops become more comfortable interacting with Muslims and people born in countries where the troops could be deployed.

"There's a lot we can offer," he said. "If we don't help with this in Columbus, Ohio, who will?"

Spc. Curtis Hale said the event helped both the soldiers and the mosque members to break down stereotypes and cultural barriers. Being able to sit down and strike up an hour-long conversation really shows the groups' commonalities instead of the differences, Hale said.

He said he gained a new appreciation of world affairs after talking with a man who grew up in Syria and is concerned about unrest there. It's easy to see events on the news and not be affected, but "getting his views about what was going on over there really brings it to life," Hale said.

Mohammad Naiyer, a 15-year-old high-school sophomore, took advantage of yesterday's event to corner a sergeant major and quiz him about military-career options.

Naiyer, who wants to be a doctor, asked about medical training and how joining the military could help pay for college.

He was impressed that the soldiers would take the time to visit the center. "When you want to learn about something, it's best to go to the source," Naiyer said. "I think it's a good thing for the Army to come to a mosque."

 

©  EsinIslam.Com

Add Comments




Comments & Debates :-: التعليقات والمحاورات







:-: Go Home :-: Go Top :-: