Rep. King won't let 'political correctness' derail probe of Muslims

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Tuesday he would “not allow political correctness” to prevent him from holding a hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) began receiving criticism from the American-Muslim community and some colleagues after announcing plans last month to look into al Qaeda’s efforts to radicalize Muslims in the U.S. King also wants to examine the role American Muslims play in assisting law enforcement and counter-terrorism experts in fighting terrorism.

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The ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.), wrote to King last week asking that he broaden the scope of the hearings to examine extremist groups such as neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups.

But King on Tuesday wrote Thompson to say “the committee will continue to examine the threat of Islamic radicalization, and I will not allow political correctness to obscure a real and dangerous threat to the safety and security of the citizens of the United States.”

King cited the terrorist attacks carried out by al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001, as a reason for how serious and different the threat posed by radicalized Muslims is, compared to that of other extremist groups.

“The homeland has become a major front in the war with Islamic terrorism and it is our responsibility to fully examine this significant change in al Qaeda tactics and strategy,” said King in his letter.

“To include other groups such as neo-Nazis and extreme environmentalists in this hearing would be extraneous and diffuse its efficacy. It would also send the false message that our Committee believes there is any threat equivalency between these disparate groups and Islamist terrorism.”

The first of the series of hearings is scheduled for March to examine “al Qaeda’s coordinated radicalization and recruitment of people within the American Muslim community.”

A Muslim-American advocacy group, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), sent a letter to its members Monday asking them to contact lawmakers on the committee and submit newspaper op-eds to try to combat any anti-Muslim bias that may increase with the hearings.

Last week, CAIR joined 50 other organizations, such as Amnesty International and the American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association, in writing to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to ask that they “object” to the hearing and advise King to look into all ideologies of radicalization.

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