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Majority of Muslims are good Americans, Peter King says from mosque dais
Sunday April 27, 2014 10:52 AM, Agencies

Known for his anti-Muslim hearings, New York Representative Peter King visited one of the largest mosques in New York Friday, April 25, receiving an unexpected warm welcome from the mosque's congregation.

Peter King visits mosque

"I said the same thing when the FBI was going after the mafia, they went to the Italian-American community," King said. "The overall majority of Muslims are good people, outstanding people."

"I was actually surprised" by the welcome, said King, who addressed nearly 1,000 congregants at Masjid Darul Qur'an mosque for about 10 minutes, News Day reported.

"I'm surprised by the reception for me, but not surprised by the hospitality of the people."

"What I have said [in the past]," he told them from the dais at the front of the sanctuary, "is that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are good Americans."

The Republican representative has stirred controversies before for broad statements linking Islam to terrorism.

There was applause as King tried to clarify past statements about terrorism that some people perceived as "anti-Muslim," such as his call for surveillance of the Muslim community, 1010 WINS' Roger Stern reported.

In 2011, King held congressional hearings on what he called Muslim "radicalization."

In 2007, he said, "There are too many mosques in this country, there's too many people who are sympathetic to radical Islam," though he has said his comments were taken out of context.

In a bid to turn a new leaf in tense relations, Muslim leaders invited King to attend prayer services at Masjid Darul Quran, the Muslim Center of Long Island in Bay Shore, an invitation welcomed by King.

King, a member and former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, denied the visit is aimed at getting votes in his district, which was reconfigured two years ago, 1010 WINS reported.

During the visit, he shared a meal with the mosque's leaders and said he would return soon for a town hall-style meeting.

"I think we're going to understand each other better," King said.

"I don't expect anyone to change their position. I'm not changing mine. But I think we can find ways to work together."

King's hearing was widely condemned as stigmatizing the Muslim minority in the US.

The hearing also drew fire from US officials and Muslims for stigmatizing the whole Muslim community in the country.

Since 9/11, US Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.

A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.

A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least "a little" prejudice against Muslims.

Inviting King to visit their mosque, Muslim leaders said they believe the visit will lead to a new relationship with King, a member and former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

"I think it went very well. This will lead to future dialogue," quoted Hafiz Rehman, a pediatrician and leader of the mosque who helped arrange King's visit, as saying.

"I think already I can sense that he regrets his own past statements."


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