By Jordy Yager - 03/29/11 05:15 PM EDT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) accused President Obama on Tuesday of not doing enough to fight domestic terrorism.
“I wish the Obama administration would be more forceful in their approach to fighting homegrown terrorism because I think that is a weakness,” Graham said. “I think the Obama administration, quite frankly, needs to change some of its policies when it comes to fighting terrorism here at home.”
Graham’s comments came at a subcommittee hearing on “protecting the civil rights of American Muslims” held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.
Subcommittee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called the hearing weeks after House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.) held his own proceeding on the “radicalization” Muslim-American community. Scores of House Democrats opposed that hearing, saying it would create further divisions between Muslim-Americans and government and law enforcement.
Durbin alluded to comments King has made about there being “too many mosques” in the U.S., but did not refer to King by name. He said his hearing would not focus on the issue of terrorism, but instead address the problem of religious and ethnic discrimination against Muslim-Americans in the United States.
Thomas Perez, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for its civil rights division, said instances of discrimination against Muslim-Americans have steadily increased since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Muslims make up only 1 percent of the American population, he said, yet account for 25 percent of the cases of religious discrimination.
“Regrettably, while nearly a decade has passed since 9/11, we continue to see a steady stream of violence and discrimination targeting Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian communities,” Perez said in his testimony.
Perez gave several anecdotal instances in which Muslim-Americans suffered from some form of discrimination.
“In each city and town where I have met with leaders of these communities, I have been struck by the sense of fear that pervades their lives – fear of violence, of bigotry and hate,” he said. “In my outreach, I consistently hear complaints that children face harassment in school, that they are called ‘terrorists’ and told by their peers to ‘go home,’ even though America is their home.”
Graham said he would continue to fully support the Justice Department’s prosecution of cases involving discrimination against Muslim-Americans, but wants to see that community “get in this fight” against homegrown radicalization.