By Saeed Qureshi
Rep Peter King’s anti-Muslims assertions will backfire because there is no evidence, whatsoever, that the American Muslims harbor grudge or mala-fide sentiments against the United States of America. Mr. King’s tirade and slander against the Muslims in recent years has been consistent, highly provocative and head-on. Peter T. King is the U.S. Representative for New York's 3rd congressional district, and the current Chairman of the United States House Homeland Security Committee.
It is his festering discrimination towards the Muslim population in America that impelled Congressman King to declare in December 2010, that after assuming the charge of the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, he would hold hearings on the radicalization of Muslims. That is why the first hearing, was held on March 10, 2011, under the title of “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response.”
In 2004, in an interview with radio anchor Sean Hannity, he made a sweeping yet false accusation that the Muslim leaders were not cooperating in the war on terror,” He also hurled a preposterous claim that "80-85 percent of mosques in the United States were being controlled by Islamic radicals. It is pure falsification to malign Muslims for not cooperating in the war on terror? The fact that the Muslim leaders were very helpful in curbing terrorism and offering cooperation is candidly testified by various statements made during the first hearing.
Along with other immigrant nationalities that now live in the United States, Muslim community too is enjoying the fruits and benedictions of a truly free, democratic and liberal society.They are well settled with their families in this great country. Their progeny and children are growing up and getting education, doing jobs or engaged in businesses
If they profess and practice their religion, it does not mean that they dislike the other religions or the country they have opted to live. They enjoy the religious freedom in America in the same way as other religions and denominations do.
In the backdrop of his cordial interaction with the Muslims in the past, Rep King amply knows that Muslims have integrated into this amazing society as patriotic and productive members. They serve in the army, work in the police force and respond on the call of duty where-ever they are needed. When questioned why he was singling out Muslims for these series of hearings, he brusquely remarked that there was no need to institute such hearing about other communities living in America
Muslims have come to the United States either by choice or forced out by the unbearable inhuman, social, political or economic conditions in their countries of origin They are patriotic and are immensely contributing towards making America great and strong in every manner and domain. The Muslim communities are extremely law abiding, keeping a low profile, peaceful and productive.
After the 9/11 horrific incident, the American Muslims have become extremely passive, docile and have come under enormous pressure. Although 9/11 was the dirty work of a few misguided Muslim youth yet the entire Muslim community in the United States and the Muslims beyond were uncharitably bandied with them. Instead of accusing those terrorists exclusively for that diabolic act, the blame was placed squarely on the Muslims as perpetrators of the terrorism. That was the unkindest slander and indeed myopic and unrealistic perception about the Muslims.
Muslims are quite well aware that there was a bias towards them from certain anti- Muslim forces and quarters. As such they would not do anything that aggravates the animus towards them. They have been very submissive and try to avoid controversies lest they are despised and cast as villains. It is the most trying times for them.
Let us not forget that one of the most outstanding and fascinating hallmarks of America is that its constitution gives the fundamental rights of freedom of life, liberty pursuit of happiness and religious worship to all the inhabitants. The Declaration of Independence written by one of the founding fathers Thomas Jefferson (later the third president) in 1776 specifically mentions in the first paragraph, the citizens’ rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable.
As we all know that the Federation of the United States of America is not run on the basis of religion or faith although the religion of the majority of the people is Christianity. However, other religions are not discriminated and they exercise full liberty to observe their religious obligations.
If Peter King wants to single out the Muslims for an enquiry of what he calls radicalization of Muslims in American then better fist of all, he should get the ‘Bill of Rights’ removed from the constitution of the United States of America.
The First Amendment in the historic Bill of Rights narrates that,” Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of the grievances.”
Mr. King’s anti Muslims’ overtures therefore, patently cut across the American constitution. In a way, this behavior is tantamount to the violation of this most sacred document that has distinguished the United States as a glorious land where there was no abridgement, ban or restriction on the religious pluralism.
America is a sanctuary for the dispossessed, uprooted, persecuted and oppressed human beings from other parts of the world. Here they find freedom and galore of human rights that present a total contrast in their birth countries run by despots and tyrants. If Rep. King wants to solely focus on the Muslims and paint them in lurid colors and declare them en-mass as unwanted for a variety of his self-crafted dubious reasons then better he consult a psychiatrist or reconsider his erratic motives.
Judged by Mr. King’s entirely discriminatory drive against the Muslim only, it would be pertinent to infer that the world was not going towards clash of civilizations as propounded by Professor Huntington but was diverted in the direction of clash of Christianity versus Islam or the western civilization versus Islam.
Mr. King’s bigotry and being of racist proclivities is well known ever since he stepped into the political arena. He has the dubious record and tendencies of pursuing the politics of division all along. His track record shows that he has been an inveterate opponent of giving a legal status to countless illegal immigrants living here for ages and working hard to build American economy.
He opposes the closure of Guantanamo prison. He castigated Michel Jackson as a child molester and supported most stringent action against him. In 1980s, King was berated for actively supporting the terrorist Irish Republic Army. Now all these off the mark tendencies and queer perceptions portray King as a person with narrow, un-American and irrational mindset.
If the American citizens are discriminated on the basis of the ethnic background, their color, their faith and gender by some unscrupulous and racist extremists then certainly these people are doing a disservice to America. They are trying to distort its grand and lofty image as a bastion of equality and justice for all irrespective of their color of the skin or racial background. Let us not forget that United States is known as the land of immigrants and that does not exclude the white Americans as well.
Please also read Congressman Peter King’s Great Muslim Scare