Why, as a Muslim, I support the congressional hearings about Radical Islam

By Tawfik Hamid

House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Republican Peter King, of New York, opens hearings on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism in Washington, DC, on Thursday 10 March. Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim, objected to Rep. Peter King saying that, “Singling out one community is the wrong thing to do.” Congressman Ellison should have realized that it was not Rep. Peter King, but the unequivocal statistical data that showed that almost all – if not all, home grown terror attacks and plots in the US since September 11 have been conducted by Muslims.

Similarly, the statistical data in Europe was the reason why Tony Blair a few months ago had to single out Muslims as the cause of failure of integration in Europe. In an Op-Ed published in the WSJ on November 9 2010 Mr. Blair mentioned that “We have to nail down the definition of the problem. There is no general failure to integrate. In the U.K., for example, we are not talking about Chinese or Indians. We are not talking about blacks and Asians. This is a particular problem. It is about the failure of one part of the Muslim community to resolve and create an identity that is both British and Muslim.”

Failure of Muslim communities to address the root causes of home grown radicalism in their communities in the last 10 years supports the view that these communities failed to solve the problem and indicates that Muslim communities need unbiased research conducted by outsiders to get to the root causes of this problem and solve it. The failure of the Muslim communities is exemplified in the fact that, according to a May 2010 Rand Corporation report, between September 11, 2001, and the end of 2009, the U.S. government reported forty-six incidents of “domestic radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism” that involved at least 125 people. There had been an average of six cases per year since 2001, but that rose to thirteen in 2009, a worrisome sign to some experts.

Proclaiming “Today I am a Muslim too,” about 1,000 protesters gathered last Sunday in Times Square to decry Rep. Pete King’s upcoming hearings. It was much better that such communities ask their religious scholars to remove or challenge the mainstream Sharia teachings that encourage Muslims to declare wars against Non-Muslims and undervalue the lives of “unbelievers” instead of  demonstrating against the hearings.

Congressman Ellison mentioned that he welcomes confronting the ideology of Al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who is hiding in Yemen now. I fully agree with him on this; however, Congressman Ellison needs to realize that the violent teachings that can end in creating terrorists is not limited to Al-Awlaki or Bin Laden teaching but is an integral and unchallenged part of the current mainstream teachings that are available to many young Muslims in the US and overseas.

Muslims must ask themselves that why these hearings are not about Buddhists or followers of the Bahai faith. The answer is simply that it is the indisputable statistics rather than individual opinions that made it a necessity to “single out” the Muslim communities in the West for these hearings.  If Muslim communities were capable of solving the problem of home grown radicalism within their own communities, these hearings would not have been initiated.

If there is any one to blame for this, it is the Islamic scholarship  that failed to bring a new understanding of Islam that challenges values of hatred or violence that are widely available in the mainstream Islamic books.

Muslims in the US must realize that the Quran stated that (Quran 4:135) “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to the Lord, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin.” Accordingly, Muslims need to be honest enough and admit that there is a particular problem that affects their Muslim communities more than other communities and that they failed to solve such problems. As a Muslim, I send my full support to Rep. Peter King in his noble and desperately needed research about the root causes of home grown Islamic Radicalism in the US as his work can save many human lives including Muslim’s lives as well. If the efforts of Rep. Peter King resulted in saving even one human live it is as if he saved all mankind {Quran 5:32 If any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people}.