March 11, 2011 (Washington, DC) – Yesterday morning, the Committee on Homeland Security in the U.S. House of Representatives began investigative hearings on domestic radicalization. The hearings singled out American Muslims as the sole subject of Congressional scrutiny.
While we recognize the vital necessity of efforts to counter violent extremism in America, the Sikh Coalition strongly believes these hearings to be unfair and dangerous. Their sole focus on American Muslims broadly tarnishes a community of millions of peaceful, law-abiding Americans. The inevitable result of the hearings will be an America divided, not united, in the fight against violent extremism.
Not surprisingly, editorial boards across the United States have either condemned or seriously called into question the hearings. The New York Times
, Los Angeles Times
, USA Today
, Miami Herald
, Seattle Times
and Philadelphia Inquirer
have weighed-in against the hearings. America’s most prominent faith community organizations have also stood up in solidarity with Muslim Americans. The National Council on Churches
, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Baptist Joint Committee
, and the Rabbinical Assembly have opposed the hearings. Finally, America’s oldest and most respected civil rights organizations, including the NAACP
and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
, have joined forces to oppose the hearings.
Representative Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, states that singling out Muslims for scrutiny is necessary because U.S. Muslims have been “uncooperative” with law enforcement. He cites no specific law enforcement official for this statement. In fact, his position has been found to be unsupported by many credible organizations. A study issued last month
by Duke University and the University of North Carolina found that Muslim Americans are the largest source of tips bringing terror suspects to the attention of authorities. Similarly, a Muslim Public Affairs Council report found that 7 out of 11 Al-Qaeda related plots in the past 15 months were thwarted due to the assistance of Muslims
Sheriff Lee Baca of Los Angeles County stated that
: “American Muslim community leaders within Los Angeles have not hesitated to put themselves in potentially uncomfortable positions to interact with law enforcement.” Similarly, Michael Rolince, who headed the Counterterrorism Division in the FBI's Washington field office stated this week: “I will tell you in no uncertain terms that the community has on multiple occasions come forward and assisted law enforcement."
As Sikhs, we have an obligation to stand for the human rights of all people. It is important that we uphold this sacred obligation as the Muslim American community endures the type of unfair scrutiny that leads to hate crimes, workplace discrimination, school bullying, and profiling. We would also note that, apart from being unfair, the hearings can create a toxic environment for Sikh Americans
, who are often targeted for hate crimes and discrimination during times of heightened hostility toward Muslim Americans.
The Sikh Coalition calls on Congressman King to end the politics of division and practice inclusive politics that recognizes our joint interest in creating an America that is safe and secure for all.