Witnesses at King's Muslim hearings

By Michelle Boorstein
Thursday, March 10, 2011; 12:24 AM

Seven witnesses will testify Thursday at a controversial House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims called by Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.). They are:

  • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress. The African American convert has been sharply critical of the hearings, saying they focus on one faith group when discussing radicalization is dangerous.
  • Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who is known for his advocacy on human rights issues, particularly related to religious freedom overseas. He has made alliances with Muslim Americans by speaking out about violence against Muslims in places from Bosnia to Sudan. He wrote legislation in 1998 creating the National Commission on Terrorism.
  • Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), who represents a district with one of the country's largest Muslim populations. He co-wrote a letter this month urging King to expand the focus of the hearings, saying "the underlying premise of these hearings unfairly stigmatizes and alienates Muslim-Americans."
  • M. Zuhdi Jasser, a prominent Muslim doctor from Scottsdale, Ariz., who runs a small nonprofit group that partners with groups critical of Muslim American leadership. A Republican and Navy veteran, he believes Muslims need to be more outspoken about intolerances in their Scriptures and less critical of America.
  • Abdirizak Bihi, a Somali American activist who works with youths in Minneapolis's large Somali community. His nephew was killed in Somalia in 2009 after becoming a radical and joining a militant group there.
  • Melvin Bledsoe, a Memphis man whose son converted to Islam and became a radical in Yemen. The son returned to the United States and in 2009 fired shots at a Little Rock military recruiting center, killing one and wounding one. Bledsoe is critical of the FBI for ignoring what he says were signs that his son was potentially dangerous.
  • Leroy Baca, the sheriff of Los Angeles County who was called by the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. He has spoken out in recent weeks to criticize the hearing's premise that Muslims aren't cooperative with law enforcement.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company