Democrat rips radicalization hearing for 'playing into al Qaeda'

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas) on Thursday slammed a House hearing on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims, saying it played into the hands of foreign Islamic terrorist organizations.

Jackson Lee, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee conducting the hearing, lashed out against the proceedings as "tainted" and suggested the decision to hold them discriminates against Muslims.

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"This hearing is playing into al Qaeda right now around the world," Jackson Lee said during a heated speech. "It is diminishing soldiers that are on the front lines."

A number of Democrats have been highly critical of committee Chairman Peter King's (R-N.Y.) decision to hold the hearing, and those feelings came to bear in the committee room.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), one of two Muslims in Congress, broke down in tears at the witness table while telling the story of a Muslim first responder to the 9/11 attacks. 

Jackson Lee said the entire premise of the hearing had been undermined by the fact a number of Muslims appeared before the committee.

"Muslims are here cooperating. They are doing what this hearing has suggested they do not," she said. "It is an irony and an outrage that we are wasting time when Muslims are sitting before us.

"Where are the uncooperative Muslims?"

At one point, Jackson Lee held up a copy of the Constitution and said, "This breathing document is in pain."

The Congressional Black Caucus member also said the hearing was attack on religious people, making a point that President Obama is Christian, not a Muslim as some of his opponents have suggested.

"Today reminds us that being religious is never un-American," she said. "Being religious is quintessentially American."