WASHINGTON (WWJ) – Michigan Congressman John Dingell testified, Thursday, at a controversial hearing focusing on “radicalization” of the U.S. Muslim community.
Dingell, whose district includes one of the largest Muslim-American Communities in the country, said he’s worried that the hearing could continue the fear and hatred that came after 9-11.
“They are loyal, decent, honorable Americans. They old elective office. They have immigrated to our state from all parts of the Middle East… As we go into these matters, we do not blot the good name or the loyalty or raise questions about the decency of Arabs, or Muslims or other Americans en-mass,” he said.
Dingell said he does not want to see the return of McCarthyism.
“I kept a picture of Joe McCarthy hanging on the way, so I would know what it was I did not want to look like, to do, or to be. And, I believe that this committee, going into these matters, wisely, carefully and well can achieve a fine result of alerting the nation to the real concern,” Dingell said.
New York Republican Representative Peter King is holding the hearing — in which he named CAIR, The Council on Arab Islamic Relations, as a group involved in terrorism.
Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, spoke live on WWJ about King’s comments.
“The reality is, is that CAIR is a legally operating organization which encourages civic engagement, we deal with civil rights cases and we have no criminal charges over our heads. So, what Mr. King is involved in, is really theatrics.,” Walid said.
Walid added that according to FBI statistics, Muslims are involved in about 6-percent of terrorist attacks in the U.S.
Shereef Akeel, a civil rights attorney and adviser to the American-Arab Discrimination Committee, says King is playing into al-Qaeda’s hands.
“What Congressman King is doing is actually perpetuating and furthering the needs and goals of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups by holding these hearings to further divide an America, and to divide Muslims and isolate them, Muslim-Americans,” Akeel said.
Ali Hammoud, who’s on the board of the local American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, agrees.
“We’re concerned that the committee is singling out American Muslims and that the committee’s goals and their objectives will only lead to greater misunderstanding, intolerance and discrimination towards American Muslims,” Hammound said.
Rep. King said it would “water down” the hearings if he were to deal with other types of extremism, at a time when al- Qaida represents what he calls “the main threat to the United States today.”
“Homegrown radicalization is part of al-Qaida’s strategy to continue attacking the United States,” King said as he opened the hearings.
After a week of protests leading up to the hearing, King dismissed what he called unwarranted “rage and hysteria” and said Congress has a duty to press forward.
On Thursday, at King’s request, the Capitol Police secured the congressional hearing room and surrounding areas, as well as his office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.