Today’s guest blogger is Hesham A. Hassaballa, a Chicago-based physician and writer. His latest book is Noble Brother: The Story of the Prophet Muhammad in Poetry.
The safety and security of the United States and her people is of the utmost importance to every single American, not just to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. I am confident that any American would do his or her utmost to prevent an attack of any kind against their country. It would make the most sense, to me at least, to examine all sources of threats to the security of the Homeland, in order to get a full, informed view of what threatens the country and how to properly deal with it.
Thus, it was exasperating to read about (and watch part of) Rep. King’s March 10 hearing entitled, “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” It was troubling to see Rep. King focus solely on the American Muslim community, as if it was the only source of the threat of terrorism against the Homeland. On the one hand, I am grateful for his and the Committee’s efforts in keeping my family and me safe from terrorist attack. Yet, to see him single out my faith community, to the exclusion of all others, was disturbing to the very core.
It made me wonder: will Rep. King also investigate the extent of the terrorist threat against Muslims in this country and the government’s response? Ever since 9/11, the American Muslim community has been the subject of sustained attack and backlash for the sins of terrorists both home and abroad. Mosques have been firebombed, vandalized, and even burned to the ground. In response to a local, New York City community center project, a man in Madera, California attacked a mosque with a brick and left signs saying, “No Temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero. ANB,” “Wake up America, the Enemy is here. ANB” and “American Nationalist Brotherhood.”
Scores of American Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslim)Another investigation for Rep. King?, completely innocent of the crimes of the terrorist criminals who may happen to share their faith, have been brutalized, attacked, harassed, beaten, and even killed. Even people who are perceived to be Muslim, such as Sikh Americans, have been attacked. Recently, in California, two Sikh men were gunned down in an apparent hate crime. Also in California, Muslims attending a fundraiser to help combat homelessness and domestic abuse were harassed and subjected to vile insults by “patriots” protesting their presence. Local residents shouted: “You beat your women and you rape your children!” And, “Take your sharia and go home, you terrorist lovers. Your hands are bloody! Your money is bloody! Get out!”
This is not to mention the sustained terrorist threat against abortion clinics, Planned Parenthood clinics, and - sad to say - African-American churches in this country. This is not to mention the fact that African-Americans were subjected to domestic terrorism for over 100 years in this country. This is not to mention to the ever-present terrorist threat against Jews and synagogues in this country. Will Rep. King investigate this? Will he hold hearings into the clear and present danger of violent extremism that emanates from without the Muslim community? In fact, according to a recent study, in 2010, there were more than 30 domestic terror plots. Ten of them were by Muslims.
The threat of radicalization of American Muslims is real, and I do not dismiss it at all. It must be dealt with in a responsible manner. Yet, so should all the threats of violent extremism against America and Americans. Singling out one community for investigation does not make us safer; it does not make us more unified as a people; it only alienates and hurts, and it hands our terrorist enemies - Muslim or otherwise - an unwarranted victory.