Three weeks after the House Homeland Security Committee held a controversial hearing to examine the radicalization of Muslim-Americans, a Senate panel turned the tables by exploring ways to protect Muslim-Americans’ civil rights.
“Guilt by association is not the American way, and American Muslims are entitled to the same constitutional protections as every other American,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), who chairs the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, Human Rights and the Law. The hearing, he said, was intended to show that most Muslim Americans “are patriotic, law-abiding people who simply want to live their life as we do.”
Farhanna Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, testified about instances in which Muslims have been targets of violence and acts of discrimination. He cited a New York City taxi driver who was stabbed last summer after a passenger asked if he was a Muslim. In addition, he said that Muslim-bias-based complaints comprised 25 percent of complaints received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 2008 to 2009, even though Muslims make up just one percent of the entire population.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Missouri), who testified at the House hearing on radicalization, praised the hearing.
“It was important to do. Islamophobia is a very serious problem in America today,” he said. “And the [House hearing] actually contributed to hostility and prejudice against people who are Muslim. So I think it’s only appropriate to do a hearing on the prejudice that the average Muslim is facing.”
But Rep. Peter King, the New York Republican who convened the contentious House hearing, told Fox News that Tuesday’s Senate hearing “perpetuates the myth that somehow Muslims are victims of Sept. 11.”
King took issue with the “illusion that there’s a violation of civil rights of Muslims in this country. It’s absolutely untrue, and to me it makes no sense.”
To view the hearing, click here.
(Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)