News / USA

Congress Holds Hearing on Radicalization of US Muslims

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, begins hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 10, 2011
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, begins hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 10, 2011
Cindy Saine

Emotions ran high at a congressional hearing Thursday on the extent of radicalization in the U.S. Muslim community.  The hearing has reignited a national debate on how best to fight domestic terrorism while respecting Americans' civil liberties and religious diversity in the country.  

Peter King, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, defended the hearing and its focus on the radicalization of the American Muslim community.

King, a Republican from New York, said there is nothing discriminatory about his approach, contrary to the objections of its many opponents.

"This committee cannot live in denial, which is what some of us would do when they suggest that this hearing dilute its focus by investigating threats unrelated to al-Qaida," said King. "The Department of Homeland Security and this committee were formed in response to the al-Qaida attacks of September 11th.  There is no equivalency of threat between al-Qaida and neo-Nazis, environmental extremists or other isolated madmen."

Related video report by Carolyn Presutti


Civil rights and Muslim advocacy groups as well as a coalition of Christian and Jewish leaders have strongly criticized the hearing for focusing on the community of some seven million American Muslims, instead of looking at the broad spectrum of domestic terrorist groups that would include violent anti-government activists and white supremacists.

Democratic Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim American elected to the U.S. Congress, was a witness at the hearing and an opponent of its format.

"As leaders, we need to be rigorous about our analysis of violent extremism," said Ellison. "Our responsibility includes doing no harm.  I am concerned that the focus of today's hearing may increase suspicion of the Muslim American community, ultimately making us all a little less safe."

Ellison sobbed when he related the story of a young Muslim American who gave his life as a first responder after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Untied States, saying there were hateful and false rumors after his death that he might have been involved in the attacks because he was Muslim.

Two of the witnesses at the hearing had family members who were radicalized by Islamist extremists.  Melvin Bledsoe of Tennessee told the story of his son, Carlos Bledsoe, who converted to Islam at age 19 and was radicalized in the United States.  The young man traveled to Yemen and was trained in a terrorist training camp.  He later shot and killed a U.S. Army private and wounded another outside an army recruiting station.  Bledsoe is in jail, facing murder charges.  His father said he wants to warn other American parents that radicalization is a gradual process.

"If I can save one other child from going through what my family has gone through or the victim's family went through, then I think my trip here to this committee was worthwhile," said Bledsoe.

The subject of Islamic radicalization and terrorism divided the House committee largely along party lines.  Most Democratic members objected to the hearing's focus on one religious group.

Democratic Representative Laura Richardson of California was blunt in her assessment of Republican committee Chairman Peter King.

"It believe the narrow scope of this hearing is discriminatory and it is an abuse of power," said Richardson.

Most Republican members commended King for being steadfast in the face of opposition to the hearing.

Los Angeles Sheriff Leroy Baca, who testified before the committee, appeared at some points to be caught in the middle, with lawmakers from both major parties seeking his agreement with their position.

Baca spoke from a law enforcement perspective, saying it is his job to protect Americans of all faiths and from all walks of life, and that police need public participation from everyone.

"The Muslim community is no less or no more important than others as no one can predict with complete accuracy who and what will pose the next threat against our nation," said Baca.

Baca said his experience has been that American Muslims increasingly are gaining confidence in cooperating with law enforcement officials.

Senior Obama administration officials say that the threat of domestic terrorism is real, but they stress that the answer is to reach out to the Muslim American community and not to stigmatize an entire group because of the actions of a few.

Representative King vows to hold more hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, saying he is driven by the desire to prevent another al-Qaida attack on the United States.

Radicalization in the U.S. Muslim Community, Organizations Panel Hearing

You May Like

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs