Washington: As a US
Congressional panel began a controversial hearing on the
radicalisation of Muslim Americans, several organizations
representing South Asian, Chinese, Japanese and other Asian
American communities denounced the move.
"We have grave concerns with the tenor and scope of the hearing,"
they said as Peter King, Republican Chairman of the House Homeland
Security Committee, convened a hearing Thursday on "The Extent of
Radicalisation in the American Muslim Community."
"As we had anticipated, the hearing did not produce any
significant contributions to the crucial issue of national
security," South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT),
Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) and the Japanese American
Citizens League (JACL) stated.
"Rather, they continued to scapegoat a single religious
community," they said adding, "As Asian Americans, we are
extremely disappointed with the targeting of a particular
community within the halls of Congress."
Along with Asian American communities, South Asian, Arab, Sikh and
Muslim Americans share a long history in this country and have
played an invaluable part in building this nation, the community
"Yet our communities have also faced discrimination and alienation
in America," they said calling "upon Congress to engage in an
objective dialogue about national security that focuses on
On the Capitol Hill, the four-hour session of the House panel
heard calls from moderate Muslims for support in overcoming
extremists seeking to indoctrinate their children, as well as
protests from Democratic legislators who complained the hearing
unfairly implicated all Muslims for the criminal acts of a small
In the end, King said the hearing that generated widespread media
coverage "actually went a lot easier than it could have."
He blamed what he called the "mindless, baseless hysteria in the
media" in preceding weeks for the controversy, and promised
additional hearings in coming months, with the next perhaps
focusing on the radicalisation of Muslims in US prisons.
Despite strong criticism from Muslim Americans and accusations of
a McCarthyist revival, King started the hearing by defending it as
neither "radical or un-American."
Witnesses stressed to the panel the need for more understanding of
the issue, with a father describing how his son was radicalised by
Islamic extremists, and a moderate Muslim activist advocating an
American form of Islam that believes in "separation of mosque and
Democrats on the panel sharply criticised King for focusing the
hearing only on the Muslim-American community, with some
expressing outrage and other making emotional pleas.
(Arun Kumar can
be contacted at email@example.com)